SARTELL, Minn. - Local officials say the cost of fighting a smoldering fire at the Verso paper mill in Sartell could climb to six figures.

More than 50 fire departments, seven law enforcement agencies and seven other agencies have been involved in efforts to extinguish the fire touched off by an explosion Monday that killed one employee and injured four others.

Sartell Fire Chief Ken Heim says the fire is 98 percent to 99 percent contained. Work continues on removing huge smoldering paper bales from the plant. A contractor began tearing down part of the damaged warehouse Thursday so firefighters can get inside.

The St. Cloud Times ( ) reports about 4,000 paper rolls are in the warehouse, each weighing 1 ton to 4 tons. Flare-ups occur when the smoldering bales are exposed to the air.