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Video: Multiple Minn. FDs respond to grain elevator fire

Fergus Falls firefighters were assisted by mutual aid departments in protecting the wooden main elevator

By James Allen
Fergus Falls Daily Journal

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — A fire near the heart of downtown Fergus Falls brought multiple area fire departments to the Farmers Elevator, located at 406 East Junius Avenue on Nov. 12 .

Firefighters from the Fergus Falls Fire Department responded at approximately 6:31 p.m. to the elevator located just southeast of the city’s downtown.

Upon arrival by additional crews from Elizabeth and Underwood , Fergus Falls Fire Department Chief Ryan Muchow said the fire was seen by responding police and fire personnel from several blocks away. Upon arrival, the grain dryer was engulfed in flames with fire impinging upon the wood constructed elevator.

Crews from the first two engine companies established a water supply from a hydrant and began exposure protection of the elevator. The ladder truck was deployed to conduct exposure protection of the upper reaches of the building. Initial smoke conditions were intense.

Muchow said the main concern initially was the wood-built nearby elevator.

“Our initial concern was if it were to have extended into the main elevator which is all wood construction, however, we were able to keep it contained to the dryer. It was soybeans that were in the dryer. Since we applied water quickly to protect the elevator that was also problematic because the soybean got really stuck in the dryer, so it’s a lot harder to get them out of there,” said Muchow.

Mutual aid was requested from Dalton with additional ladder trucks from Breckenridge and Perham assisting with opening the bottom and middle sections of the dryer to get the burning product out.

Muchow said at the onset of the incident, a Smart911 alert was sent by the county to residences that were downwind of the fire to shelter indoors due to the smoke conditions. The request was lifted after about two hours.

In addition, Otter Tail Valley Railroad placed a hold on train traffic, as fire crews were working near the rail line.

The fire was deemed unintentional, resulting from drying soybeans. Muchow said a damage estimate is not yet available. No injuries were reported, although Ringdahl Ambulance responded to the scene as a precaution.

Fergus Falls crews were on scene for five hours, with mutual aid departments clearing the scene after approximately two-and-a-half hours.

The Fergus Falls Fire Department was assisted at the scene by Fergus Falls police, Ringdahl Ambulance, Fergus Falls Public Works — Water and Street divisions, the Salvation Army , Otter Tail Power Company , Great Plains Natural Gas , Otter Tail Valley Railroad , Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office — Communications and the Elizabeth , Underwood , Dalton , Perham and Breckenridge fire departments.

(c)2023 the Fergus Falls Daily Journal (Fergus Falls, Minn.)
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