HENNEPIN — Where there’s smoke there’s fire, but in the case of a Wednesday morning dryer fire at Marquis Energy, the alarm was largely precautionary.
Marquis Senior General Counsel Don Rayfield said on Thursday that the fire was contained to a dryer duct, but when it comes to any incident at the ethanol plant, ‘they don’t mess around’.
Rayfield said at about 5 a.m. employees noticed smoke coming from a dryer and called 911. Granville Fire Department, the first on scene, put out a call for mutual aid from other area departments, many of which are staffed by volunteers, to ensure the situation stayed controlled.
‘’We have over 500 trucks of corn delivered per day,” Rayfield said. “Wet, leftover corn shells have the oil removed, then the rest is used for (distillers grain) for livestock and for export. The fire occurred where the grain is dried.”
Rayfield said Marquis administration still is unsure how the fire started because the plant uses a steam drying process that helps to eliminate fire risk.
“We’re very perplexed how the fire started in the exhaust duct,” he said. “It’s possible there was a build up of dust from drying that collected in the duct and caught on fire.
“It’s still unclear because they don’t get hot enough, but still it caught fire.”
Rayfield said the fire was quickly extinguished, having been put out by about 8:30 a.m. and several departments stayed on scene until about lunchtime to ensure all the ductwork was cooled.
The ducts were subsequently cleaned out.
“No one was injured or ever in any danger, and the fire did not happen anywhere near the ethanol production side of the plant,” Rayfield said. “There was no permanent damage and we’re back to normal operations.
“We appreciate how quickly everyone got here and are thankful to all the departments and emergency responders.”
The following was stated by the Hennepin Fire Department : “Thank you to, and in no particular order, the following Fire Departments: Varna, Lostant, Peru, Standard, Granville, LaSalle, Troy Grove, Henry, Princeton, Bureau, Oglesby, Ladd, Utica, Malden, DePue, Cedar Point, Spring Valley and Streator for bringing the MABAS Air Truck. The following Ambulance services need to be thanked as well: PC EMS, Lostant, Utica, Peru, Eastern Marshall County and Ottawa. Special thanks to Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch, Valcom, BueComm and Mabas for all their assistance. Also thank you to Spratt’s Tap for sending food out to the scene. If we have missed anyone, we apologize and know that we appreciate all the support our community offers. While it does seem like a big list of agencies and the fire was contained to a small area of the plant, remember that a fire of this nature can suddenly turn and it is better to be prepared and operate in a safe manner than to not have enough help.”