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Fire destroys Wiebke Fur Co. headquarters

By REID MAGNEY / La Crosse Tribune

EITZEN, Minn. — Wiebke Fur Co.'s headquarters burned to the ground late Wednesday night.

"I don't know what our plans are," said Dan Wiebke, president of the family business. "We'll meet with the insurance people and make some decisions."

A fire of unknown origin started about 10 p.m., said Eitzen Fire Chief Charlie Kruse. Firefighters found the building engulfed in flames, he said.

Wiebke Fur Co. in Eitzen, Minn. lies in ruins Thursday after a fire destroyed the buildings that were home to the business Wednesday night.

Animal fats in the building caused the fire to burn very hot, Kruse said, and the structure was a total loss.

No cause of the fire has been determined, Kruse said.

Eitzen firefighters, with mutual aid from New Albin, Iowa, and Caledonia, Houston and Spring Grove, Minn., were able to save two houses near the burning building, Kruse said.

The building also contained firearms and ammunition which went off during the fire, Kruse said. No one was injured.

Dan Wiebke said the family located the business in the old Eitzen creamery building more than 30 years ago. They've expanded the two-story building over the years.

Wiebke buys and sells ginseng and morel mushrooms, as well as a variety of furs including raccoon, muskrat and beaver, he said.

The Eitzen facility has four full-time workers and a dozen seasonal workers, Wiebke said.

Wiebke has a retail location at 110 Rose St. in La Crosse. Wiebke said his father, Tom, and brother Jason are involved in the business.

Reid Magney can be reached at (608) 791-8211 or rmagney@lacrossetribune.com.