The White Wolf Web, a printing plant located at 300 Second Ave. in Sheldon, was destroyed by fire on Tuesday, June 4, 2013.
The Sheldon Fire Co. was dispatched to the scene about 1:20 a.m. Ashton, Boyden and Sanborn fire departments were called to help contain the fire.
According to White Wolf Web president Jeff Wagner, the mailroom crew left the building when they were finished about 12:40 a.m. A contract driver arrived at the plant 20 minutes later to pick up newspapers for delivery. Smoke was coming out the back of the building and he notified 911. Jeff said he was called at 1:25 a.m. by the O’Brien County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant fire chief Denny Kruger said they were unable to check the interior of the building because the roof was collapsing, so they were attacking the fire from the exterior. Apparently, the fire started at the back and spread throughout the building.
The ladder truck was used to attack the blaze from above. Farmers Market brought in a backhoe and knocked down a wall on the southeast side of the building to access the fire further.
Firefighters battled flare-ups throughout the night. Some of the smoldering debris was pulled out, so they could completely douse it with water.
The fire was contained about 5:15 a.m. All that was left of the building was the shell, according to co-publisher Connie Wagner. The firefighters were able to leave the fire shortly after noon Tuesday.
The state fire marshal arrived that morning, but he was unable to determine the cause of the fire at that time. The building and its contents apparently were totaled. Until the fire investigator and the insurance adjusters completed their appraisals, no decisions would be made about the 1973 constructed building.
Jeff Wagner said they would contact various other plants to print the newspapers they usually printed. The Sheldon plant was where The N’West REVIEW, The Sheldon Mail-Sun, Doon Press, Sioux Center News, The Rock Valley Bee, The Osceola County Gazette-Tribune and other publications were printed.
The Sheldon Mail-Sun was printed in Storm Lake on Tuesday.
The N’West Iowa REVIEW was printed in Worthington, MN, later in the week.
Myrna Wagner, vice president of operations, shared this statement with the Worthington Globe, “I’m so glad no one was in the building and thankful for the firefighters who tried to save our business.”
A second press in a salvaged portion of the plant was damaged by overspray, smoke and heat, but it was able to be refurbished and utilized by the company after several months of publications being sent elsewhere to be printed.
Today a new printing plant stands on the east side of Sheldon south of Highway 18. The printing company purchased a 2.4-acre parcel of land in the new Crossroads Industrial Park to construct a 27,500-square-foot plant.
White Wolf Web & Digital Printing, a sister company to Sheldon-based Iowa Information Publishers and Printers, held a grand opening and dedication of its new facility on Friday, June 3, 2016. The Sheldon Fire Co. blessed the building by spraying water over it. It had been three years earlier when these firefighters were trying to put out the fire that destroyed their original printing plant.
Millie Vos is the secretary/treasurer of the Sheldon Historical Society and the museum director and a board member of the Sheldon Prairie Museum, 319 10th St. This is part of a series of historical articles about Sheldon. Members of the Sheldon Historical Society receive a yearly newsletter with articles like this. To join the society, call her at 712-324-3235 or stop by the museum.