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Fire breaks out at ethanol plant

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By Cali Owings

Forum News Service

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Fire crews responded late Monday afternoon to a fire at an ethanol plant here.

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The Fergus Falls Fire Department received an initial report of a fire in the dryer building of the Green Plains Renewable Energy plant just before 4:30 p.m., said Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland.

When firefighters arrived, there was an explosion that tore apart a building, Hovland said. No one was injured in the fire or subsequent explosion.

“We are very fortunate that we were not inside the building at the time,” he said.

There were only seven employees working in the plant at the time of the fire, said General Manager Anthony Hicks. There are usually 20 to 25 employees working during normal hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., he said. Most had already gone home for the day.

The plant, which produces corn-based ethanol, corn oil and distiller’s grains, has been in operation since 2008.

Hovland said it is too early to determine the cause and an investigation will follow.

The fire was isolated to one part of the plant and crews were working to cool it Monday night.

Hovland said the Fergus Falls crew will monitor the fire throughout the night.

Three other area fire departments assisted and a total of 54 firefighters responded to the fire.

Hicks said it is too early to determine the extent of the damage, but it was “significant.”

Hicks said Green Plains officials will assess the damage and determine how to get the plant up and running again.

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