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Top 10 – #2 Verso Paper Mill Explosion, Fire

Matt Larson

SARTELL – We are down to our #2 story of the year in our countdown of the Top 10 Local News Stories of 2012.

It’s a story that shook the town of Sartell, and many others in Central Minnesota.  We look back at the explosion and fire at the Verso Paper Mill.

It was precisely at 11:21 a.m. on Memorial Day that the call came in to the Sartell Fire Department.  John Maus of Albany was killed in the explosion, four other workers were injured.

The massive fire at the Verso Paper Mill smoldered for several days, burning 3,000 to 4,000 rolls of paper, and severely damaging the warehouse portion of the building.  Ultimately the cause of the explosion was determined to be an overheated compressor. A total of 93 fire departments responded to the fire, at a cost of nearly $400,000.  A bill the company ended-up paying.

Meanwhile, with about 250 workers out of a job, local, State and Federal officials began working with the Verso Paper Company to try to find a way to get the plant back up and running again.

But, on August 2nd company officials make the decision no one wanted to hear.

Verso has the plant and the land it sits on for sale, but so far it remains empty.  Just a constant reminder of what it once was.  The Sartell Paper mill dates back to before Sartell was a town, construction began in 1905, and the plant opened in 1908.

Tune in on Monday when we reveal our #1 news story of 2012.

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