Recycling plant fire burns for 3rd day in Minnesota

BECKER, Minn. — Firefighters battled a stubborn fire at a metal recycling plant in a small Minnesota community for a third consecutive day Thursday.

The fire at the Northern Metals plant in Becker was unleashing noxious, billowing smoke and the wind has shifted direction, prompting school officials to cancel classes for the day.

Firefighters from around the region continued to work the blaze in the Sherburne County city about 50 miles (80 kilometres ) northwest of Minneapolis.

In a Facebook update late Wednesday, the Becker Police Department said the fire could last several more days.

Firefighting crews were using heavy equipment to separate a portion of a burning stack of vehicles in hopes that the blaze would eventually die out. The strategy was intended to protect nearby buildings.

“The resulting fire will be more intense and will produce more black smoke, but the plume is expected to rise higher into the air and travel farther before dissipating,” Becker police said.

Residents have not been asked to evacuate, but should stay away from the immediate area of the fire.

Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun said the cause of the fire, initially spotted at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, remained unknown.

Officials were monitoring the air quality in the community of about 4,500 people. The city requested help from the National Guard, the state Pollution Control Agency and Health Department.

Northern Metals moved its shredding operation from Minneapolis to Becker last year after the Pollution Control Agency ordered it shut down because of high levels of air pollution and inaccurately recorded pollution.

The Associated Press