Sartell city officials held a news conference to update the media on the explosion at the Verso Paper Plant.

Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland calls it a "significant event" that began as an explosion and then became a fire event. The first call for help was at 11:21 this morning.

Five area police departments and 7 fire departments are working together to deal with the situation.

Gartland says the fire is believed to be 50% contained at this time.

Gartland says the explosion damaged the plant's fire suppression system and that system was not working properly.

One firefighter was removed from the scene because of heat exhaustion.  Gartland could not say if there were any other injuries.  She says plant officials are still working on finding out how many people were at the plant.  Plant officials would not confirm any injuries of plant workers at this time.

Gartland says officials used their interactive community notification system to call area residents and tell them not to go outside and to avoid breathing in the smoke.

Another news conference is scheduled for 4:00.


Hear City Administrator Patti Gartland's comments: