FAIRMONT - A dust explosion in the prep area of the CHS soybean-processing plant in Fairmont caused a blaze that had firefighters at the facility for most of Monday afternoon.
"The fire got into the conveyor system, and there was concern about the fire spreading into the extraction portion of the facility, which contains explosive hexane gas," said Fairmont Fire Chief Doug Borchardt. "We were able to get it cut off from there, and then it was a matter of putting out the smoldering spots. We got the call around 1:53 p.m. and we cleared the scene at 7:25 p.m."
One employee was treated for minor burns at the scene, while two Fairmont firefighters received minor injuries. One had steam burns, while another suffered a case of heat exhaustion. Borchardt said the firefighter who was burned was treated and released, but he was unsure of the condition of the firefighter who suffered heat exhaustion.
ON THE SCENE — Emergency workers responded to a fire at the CHS soybean-processing plant in Fairmont on Monday afternoon. Fairmont firefighters requested mutual aid from nearby agencies to contain and extinguish the blaze.
Borchardt wouldn't speculate on how much damage was done to the facility, but mentioned that parts of the building were damaged while firefighters tracked the blaze through the plant.
Fairmont fire and police departments, along with most other fire departments in Martin County, responded to the scene. The South Central Rehab team from Mankato was called to assist with the injured firefighters.
CHS is based in Inver Grove Heights. The company bills itself as the nation's leading cooperative, owned by farmers, ranchers and co-ops across the United States. It is a global energy, grains and foods business, and a Fortune 100 company.
The company held a ribbon-cutting for its Fairmont CHS plant in 2003. The plant crushes more than 110,000 bushels per day. It employs about 40 people.