by Dennis Dalman
Seven fire departments responded to yet another fire at the former Verso paper mill in Sartell – a fire that started in the early evening of Aug. 6.
According to the Sartell-LeSauk Fire Department, two firefighters received minor injuries – an injury to one man’s shoulder, and a knee injury to another man. Nobody else was injured in the incident.
It’s one of several fires that occurred at the plant during the ongoing demolition process of the past year.
The Aug. 6 fire was started when sparks from a torch used in the demolition process ignited coal dust in a coal chute on the south end of the property, at the tall blue structure.
The fire was difficult and awkward to fight, which caused firefighters to stay on site for five hours. Those responding to the fire, besides the Sartell-Le Sauk Fire Department, were the departments from St. Stephen, St. Joseph, St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park. Water had to be hauled in with trucks because there was no water access at the site of the fire.
Black roiling smoke rose into the sky as bystanders gathered and watched, some of them from the bridge nearby. The smoke and sounds of fire trucks arriving were eerie reminders of what happened at that plant on Memorial Day 2012, when an explosion and fire killed one worker, caused massive damage and ultimately sealed the fate of the doomed paper mill.
American Iron and Metal bought the plant and has been dismantling it to use its massive amounts of metal for recycling uses. After the site is cleared, a Canadian-based firm named Edmonton Trailer is expected to set up a plant there. The company manufactures a variety of rigs for semis.
photo by Tara Wiese
The spectral glow of lights a haze of smoke dominate the scene at the Verso paper mill in Sartell after a fire broke out at the demolition site in the early evening of Aug. 6. It took firefighters from five departments five hours to put out the flames. Two Sartell firefighters suffered minor injuries.