Shakopee plant explosion under control but monitored through the night

6:56 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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SHAKOPEE, Minn. - The city of Shakopee is sounding the all-clear after a biomass plant explosion south of Minneapolis, but fire crews will remain on scene into the night cooling the silos where the explosions happened.

Emergency crews were called early Thursday just after 12:30p.m. to a fire at a complex that houses Rahr Malting Co. and Koda Energy. Koda Energy turns byproducts of wood and oat hulls into fuel.

Smoke billowed from the tall silos at the complex. A ladder truck was seen spraying water on the fire. Seven area fire departments responded.

Jerry Dahl, who lives down the block from the plant, was working on his car when he saw the explosion briefly light up the sky.

"The shockwave was kind of loud and the fireball was 150 feet in the air," said Dahl.

Derek Maxson heard the mysterious boom above all the noise in the warehouse of the Midwest Specialty Products countertop business.

"It sounded like someone just drove a semi into our building, a train derailed or we just got bombed by something. It was loud," he said.

Maxson ran next door to the Koda Energy plant to see if he could help, but when he snapped a quick photo of the fire leaping from the top of the silos, had second thoughts.

"The whole backside of the place was blown off," said Maxson.

Koda Energy supply chain director Mike Marsollek said the explosions happened in two separate silos, and was in his office inside the plant when he heard two large bangs. He immediately enacted an emergency evacuation plan that got all seven employees inside out safely.

Marsollek said the plant had a small dust explosion last year but would not speculate on the cause of this explosion. He also said the company has training protocols in place should such an event happen.

People who live and work near the plant walked away relieved when they learned the horrific sight didn't cause any causalities.

"My nerves are so bad, watching last week, with the (Texas) fertilizer plant and Boston. Your heart goes out, standing here please don't let anyone be hurt," said Beth Matthews, who evacuated her neighbors as the caretaker of an apartment building nearby.

"It is just very scary," she said.

By mid-afternoon, the city tweeted that there are no air quality or environmental concerns following the Koda Energy silo explosion.

Rahr Malting is a family owned business that began in 1847. It produces and distributes malt and industry-related brewing supplies.

Koda is a renewable energy partnership between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Rahr.

Shakopee is about 14 miles south of Minneapolis.

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