One Dead, Others Injured in Mill Explosion 29 May 12

One person was killed Monday and at least four others were injured in an explosion that caused a large fire at a paper mill in Sartell.

The explosion occurred shortly before noon at the Verso Paper Corp. mill.

The St. Cloud Times reported that a company official said an air compressor exploded. A full shift was working at the time.

The name of the person killed was not immediately released, nor the condition of those hurt.

At least one firefighter was treated on the scene for heat exhaustion, according to Sartell city manager Patti Gartland. In all, seven area fire departments responded to the blaze. The plant, located downtown, is a major local employer.

Authorities said no hazardous materials appeared to have been exposed to the fire, but they were warning residents downwind to stay indoors and close windows because of the smoke. The building’s sprinkler system was damaged in the explosion, Gartland said, but firefighters had the blaze about 90 percent contained by around 4 p.m.

Matt Dahl, who lives nearby, said the explosion was huge and that it shook his house. He said he ran outside to see flames and smoke shooting from the mill.