Crews battle fire, explosion at Fergus Falls ethanol plantPublished 10:03am Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Heather Rule
Fergus Falls Daily Journal
FERGUS FALLS — No one was injured after an explosion Monday afternoon in the dryer building area of the Green Plains ethanol plant in Fergus Falls. The initial report was for a fire, and the explosion happened after fire crews arrived on the scene, according to Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland.
“We’re very fortunate that we were not inside the building at the time,” Hovland said.
The original call came in at 4:20 p.m. at the ethanol plant, located at 24096 170th Ave. on the west side of Fergus Falls. Anthony Hicks, general manager for Green Plains, had just left when it happened, he said, and then he came right back.
“We went into emergency shut down,” Hicks said. “Nobody was in that particular section of the plant.”
Only the minimal number of employees, seven, were in the plant at the time, according to Hicks. The peak operating hours of the plant are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hicks didn’t know the extent of the damage Monday evening, except to say that there was “significant damage in the dryer building.”
Along with Fergus Falls, three other area fire departments and a total of 52 firefighters responded. The Fergus Falls Police Department, Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, Ringdahl Ambulance and Minnesota State Patrol also responded to the scene.
Law enforcement shut down County Road 116 as crews were on the scene. Tankers made their way in and out of the plant area to bring more water to the scene.
They will need to investigate to determine the cause of the fire, Hovland said.
“It’s too early to tell,” Hovland said. “Right now, we don’t know.”
The Fergus Falls plant, which opened in 2008, is one of two that Omaha-based Green Plains has in Minnesota.