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Published March 10, 2014, 09:06 PM

Fire departments work into night to contain ethanol plant fire

Fergus Falls, MN (WDAY TV) - Thick billowing smoke could be seen for miles from the ethanol plant in Fergus Falls this afternoon. For a few hours traffic was shut down on Highway 116 as tanker trucks worked to haul water to the scene.

Fergus Falls, MN (WDAY TV) - Thick billowing smoke could be seen for miles from the ethanol plant in Fergus Falls this afternoon. For a few hours traffic was shut down on Highway 116 as tanker trucks worked to haul water to the scene.

A fire broke out in a corn dryer, and just minutes later there was a massive explosion. Four fire departments were on scene until 8 Monday evening making sure the fire was contained.

Dalton, Elizabeth, Underwood and Fergus Falls crews were not only fighting the blaze, but also making trip after trip to fill up the water tankers. The call came in just after 4 this afternoon at Green Plains Otter Tail.

Mark Hovland - Fergus Falls Fire Chief: "Our initial report was that there was a fire and when we did arrive on scene we did have an explosion that took apart a building."

With four fire departments on scene and more than 50 firefighters, everyone was lucky enough to walk away unscathed.

The plant is fairly new; it was built in 2008. Since its completion, Fergus Falls Fire Crews and plant employees routinely practice drills to prepare for emergencies just like this one.

Anthony Hicks - Green Plains Otter Tail, General Manager: "We went into emergency shutdown on the plant, as well as the dryer."

Around 20 people are employed at the plant, and only seven people were on shift when the dryer fire ignited. As smoke rose from the metal structure employees headed to safety.

The Sheriffs and Fire Department tell us no one in nearby neighborhoods were evacuated.

More details are set to be released Tuesday as far as the extent of the damage, how much repairs could cost and just when the plant will be back up and running.

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