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Structural Damage Limiting Fire Suppression Efforts at Mill

Sartell Fire Captain Jerry Raymond - photo by Lee Voss, WJON

SARTELL — Fire crews have the Verso Paper Mill fire 95% contained, but they still can’t get to the seat of the fire because of structural problems with the building.

Sartell Fire Captain Jerry Raymond told Sartell council members they hope to make significant progress today.  He says they have placed barricades inside the warehouse to the extent where the building is safe for entry.

Raymond says they plan to enter the building today to try to get at the remaining fires, but may have to call in a company to shore up trusses and support beams. If that doesn’t work, Raymond says heavy equipment may be needed to tear away the wreckage and get to the fire’s origin.

Raymond says it could take 2-5 days to get the fire totally extinguished.

Raymond added, the structural engineer has told firefighters the paper-making operations appear salvageable.

The air quality for nearby residents is fine. No restrictions are in place.

The cause has not yet been established, but an explosion in a compressor is still believed to be a possibility.

In the end, Raymond says the fire is expected to cause one of the largest dollar losses in central Minnesota history.

See More Coverage of the Verso Plant Explosion and Fire in Sartell

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