Failed pump caused fire at ethanol plant

Published 11:15 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

FERGUS FALLS — The fire and explosion at the Green Plains Ethanol Plant in Fergus Falls Monday afternoon was the result of a failed hydraulic pump, according to a news release from the Fergus Falls Fire Department.

The failed hydraulic pump controlled the damper on the dryer rack. The damper failed to open, causing higher-than-normal temperatures and the fire, the release said. Smoke was then drawn into the dryer, creating the smoke explosion in the dryer building.

The plant has been closed indefinitely while officials assess the damage. An exact dollar amount is not yet available.

Email newsletter signup

The original call came in at 4:20 p.m. for a fire at the ethanol plant, located at 24096 170th Ave. on the west side of Fergus Falls. The explosion happened after fire crews arrived on the scene, according to Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland. No one was injured.

The plant produces 60 million gallons of ethanol annually. That’s about 165,000 gallons per day, according to Jim Stark, Green Plains spokesperson.

The Fergus Falls plant opened in 2008 and is one of two that Omaha-based Green Plains has in Minnesota, and is one of 12 total. A total of 43 employees work there.

— Fergus Falls Daily Journal