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Published August 25, 2011, 10:48 AM

Fire Destroys Fertilizer Plant Near Litchville, ND

LITCHVILLE, N.D. — A fire at a fertilizer plant in this town near Jamestown destroyed about $300,000 in material, officials said Wednesday.

By: Katie Ryan-Anderson, Jamestown Sun

LITCHVILLE, N.D. — A fire at a fertilizer plant in this town near Jamestown destroyed about $300,000 in material, officials said Wednesday.

No one was injured in the fire which started in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to Litchville Fire Chief Darren Miedema. Miedema is also the plant’s manager in the town of about 170 people, which is located about 45 miles southeast of Jamestown.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, said Dakota Plains Cooperative President Ken Astrup. Insurance investigators were expected to inspect the damages Wednesday.

“We’re kind of speculating that lighting caused it,” Astrup said.

Fire marshals did not have plans to investigate, said Jerry Crane, chief deputy for the North Dakota State Fire Marshal’s Office. A storm makes it difficult to determine what happened, he said.

The plant was built in the 1960s and housed six types of fertilizer, totaling 500 tons. Some of the material is salvageable, Astrup said. Dakota Plains has 190 employees and had about $100 million in sales in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

“Litchville is a pretty integral part of our operation,” he said.

Dakota Plains has additional agronomy facilities in Valley City, LaMoure, Peak, Lisbon, Forman, Millnor, Elliot and Sanborn.

Astrup said Dakota Plains had planned to expand in Litchville, and plans to rebuild the fertilizer plant. While the plant lost about $300,000 in material, the value of damages to the building is unknown.

Miedema said the 20 or so firefighters from the Litchville and Marion, N.D., fire departments couldn’t save the fertilizer plant, but could prevent damage at an office complex north of it. The office complex suffered heat damage, minor discoloration and some of the barrier panels melted, Astrup said.

“They (the firefighters) worked really hard to save the building right next to it,” he said.

Dakota Plains’ other facilities in Litchville, including its warehouse, convenience store, liquid fertilizer plant, anhydrous ammonia facility and storage center, were unharmed.

The firefighters were on scene for about four hours, or until about 4 a.m., Miedema said. He and volunteer firefighter Dave Knutson remained at the plant, monitoring and extinguishing hot spots throughout the day. Knutson is an applicator for Dakota Plains.

Disruptions are expected as Dakota Plains will have to transport material from its other locations, but Astrup said he expects them to be minor.

Customers can still call the Litchville office at 701-762-4251.