Corn Dust Catches Fire at Ethanol Plant

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 @ 04:04 PM gHale

During a routine shutdown, a fire started up Tuesday in some ductwork at an ethanol production plant in Monroe, WI, officials said.

The fire call for Badger State Ethanol came in at 2:50 a.m. Tuesday, Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley said.

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A small crew of employees was cleaning and doing maintenance during a routine plant shutdown when the fire started in corn dust inside ductwork.

Kelley said the first fire unit to arrive on scene could see flames coming from seams in the roof duct piping.

“At that point, Fire Chief Daryl Rausch called for a mutual aid box alarm system alert, which brought units from 12 other surrounding departments,” Kelley said.

Part of the process at the plant involves corn grain, and grain dust appears to be the cause of the fire. “There was no danger of the ethanol being involved,” Kelley said.

By 5:45 a.m., all of the outside departments had left the scene, Kelley said, but it could take some time for the fire to clear.

“Clearing fire from the duct system is a time-consuming, labor intensive process,” Kelley said.

Cause of the fire is still under investigation, and no damage estimate was immediately available. There were no injuries reported.

Badger State Ethanol started producing ethanol in 2002 and originally had a capacity to make 40 million gallons a year. Capacity is now 57 million gallons a year.

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