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Tue, Nov 20, 2018 19:03
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Crews respond to fire at WestRock facility in Minnesota

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (From news reports) -- A St. Cloud manufacturing company evacuated employees Thursday morning after noticing flames at the base of an exhaust fan, according to WestRock production manager Allen Mackedanz.

At 8:30 a.m., the St. Cloud Fire Department responded to a call at the WestRock manufacturing plant in St. Cloud, near Veterans Drive and Minnesota Highway 15.

Mackedanz said staff noticed flames at the base of an exhaust fan located on the roof of the WestRock building after the facility lost power for about 10 minutes.

"The power came back on, and we noticed small flames beneath the fan, in the framework of the roof," Mackedanz said.

Battalion Chief Leon Faust said that the fire originated in a powered vent above a cardboard processing machine. Faust said the fire was contained to the vent and did not spread into the building proper.

At 9 a.m., fire personnel were inspecting the roof of the building and the fan. Faust estimated the loss to be about $5,000, noting that "it could certainly be higher if some equipment was damaged," which he said is undetermined.

While Faust could not state a definitive cause of the fire, he said that it was unlikely that the power outage was to blame.

"If anything, it's more likely that the fire caused the power outage, not the other way around," he said. "We won't know for sure until we the engineers get in there."

Mackedanz said staff was evacuated and everyone has been accounted for. Faust confirmed that there were no injuries due to the incident.

Employees were allowed back into the office portion of the building at 9:10 a.m. Faust said that the building was safe to enter and that WestRock could continue production as normal, barring any equipment damages.


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