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Published October 27, 2011, 07:33 AM

Fire reported at American Crystal Sugar in Moorhead

MOORHEAD – A dryer fire that started in a drum used for churning pulp damaged the American Crystal Sugar plant here this morning, Assistant Fire Chief Greg Doeden said.

By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – A dryer fire that started in a drum used for churning pulp damaged the American Crystal Sugar plant here this morning, Assistant Fire Chief Greg Doeden said.

No one was injured.

The blaze was reported at 4:24 a.m. When firefighters arrived, the plant’s two fire suppression systems, one steam and one water, were working, Doeden said. Firefighters pulled in a hose to put out hotspots the suppression system couldn’t reach, he said.

“Really the only way to put that (fire) out is to dump the product out of there,” he said. “So there’s a hatch on there they had open, and there’s an auger in there that’ll auger the product out, and they had two Bobcats running back and forth pulling it out. It’s one of those systems where it just takes a lot of patience and let the system work.”

The fire spread out of the drum and into the bag house where dust is collected, causing minimal damage there, he said.

“The majority of the fire was contained in the drum area and the pulp dryer, which is the way it’s supposed to work,” Doeden said. “They’ve got sensors in there that’ll show a little bit of temperature, and when that happened, they started shutting dampers down and introducing water.”

It’s unclear what started the fire in the drum, Doeden said. In the past, such fires have started because of hot bearings, but “that wasn’t the case this time because everything was working,” he said.

“We don’t come out here a lot, but we’ve been out here for similar things in the past. It just happens,” Doeden said.

Fire officials were concerned about burning embers coming out of the main stack, and firefighters twice went up on the roof to ensure the fire didn’t spread, Doeden said.

The plant had been turned over to the plant manager by 6:45 a.m., and crews were cleaning up inside, Doeden said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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