SARTELL -- Sartell Fire Chief Ken Heim says the Verso Paper Mill fire is 99% contained. As a result, the fire response is considered complete over most of the plant and the parts not affected by the explosion and fire have been turned back over to Verso.

The announcement by Sartell officials allows the mill to begin repairing and readying the plant for production again. About 20% of the massive paper rolls have been removed to try to gain access to what's referred to as the "red zone" where hot pockets remain behind the collapsed roof.

Eight fire departments will assist a demolition crew Thursday in a surgical demolition of the "red zone" to attack and extinguish any remaining hot pockets, smoldering paper rolls and roof flashing. Any smoldering paper rolls will then be removed and dipped in a water pit after removal.

Fire Chief Heim is hopeful the fire response can be completed by late afternoon. It will complete the transition from fire response to demolition and reconstruction.