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After 48 hours, fire finally out at IP facility in Iowa

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (From news reports) -- The Cedar Rapids Fire Department left International Paper Monday morning, more than 48 hours after they were called to the milling plant for a fire.

Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said crews responded to International Paper at 7:36 a.m. Saturday for a report of a fire in a storage and conveyor building. Employees told responding units that a bale of recycled cardboard was on fire inside the warehouse.

Once inside the warehouse, firefighters learned the fire had spread to other bales throughout the building, Buelow said. Crews were forced to remove and extinguish the bales of cardboard.

"Many of the bales contained fires that were deeply seated, which required that the bales be removed from the warehouse with skid loaders, excavators and forklifts," Buelow said in a news release. "The bales needed to be disassembled and have the cardboard extinguished."

Buelow said 950 "person hours" were logged by firefighters during the operations at International Paper, which includes firefighters from other agencies. Forty-one Cedar Rapids firefighters logged a total of 782.5 hours at the scene.

Buelow said crews from the city's nine stations cycled in and out in three-hour intervals. Firefighters battling the fire inside the warehouse rotated out every 20 minutes and their vitals were checked after each cycle, Buelow said. The Salvation Army provided crews with food and beverages and the fire department's Rapid Intervention Team was stationed outside of the fire to check firefighters for any signs of distress.

"It's a matter of not leaving one crew out there for a protracted period of time," Buelow said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. One firefighter suffered minor injuries and has been treated, Buelow said.

Crews finally left International Paper at 8:30 a.m. Monday. The Cedar Rapids Fire Department was assisted by the Ely, Fairfax, Hiawatha, Marion, Mount Vernon and Swisher fire departments and Area Ambulance Service.

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