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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--Equipment malfunction is what caused the East Grand Forks grain elevator to go up in flames last night.
Guys, it was all hands on deck at that fire last night at the M-G-I Grain Processing facility. Today, fire fighters tell me it was all due to dust.
They say dust clogged a piece of equipment in the elevator's filter area that sparked up and started the blaze.
“We were just sitting here watching TV and then all of a sudden there was this big blast--and I heard a ‘boom,’” said East Grand Forks resident, Fred Larson.
What started as a quiet Wednesday evening for Fred Larson and his wife of East Grand Forks turned into the opposite just before 7pm.
"It was quite loud. It kind of shook everything a little bit,” said Larson.
Larson lives one block away from the MGI Grain Processing elevator, which went up in flames following an explosion.
"We had police officers blocking traffic and rescue squads and you name it. So then all of a sudden I happened to look up in the air and there was a fire that had started on the top of the elevator,” said Larson.
Only two people were working in the elevator at the time of the explosion. Both of them were able to escape safely. Firefighters battled flames in the frigid temperatures for about 45 minutes before extinguishing the blaze.
"The main area of damage was the filter area. And that is where a massive amount of the dust from the processing is,” said MGI Grain Processing Manager, Gretta Gabrielson.
Luckily for M-G-I, the fire did not spread throughout the facility and no product was lost.
"It is much less than we had anticipated when we arrived on scene,” said Gabrielson.
The company's 10 employees will spend the next few days cleaning up the damage. Their customers will experience a brief delay while the company ensures nothing is wrong with the product they send out.
"We're just thankful that the quick actions of our supervisor made sure that no one was harmed and the fantastic response from EGF FD made sure that no one was injured and that the building received minimal damage,” said Gabrielson.
And for folks like the Larsons -- they are just glad their suddenly exciting night didn't turn out to be any danger to them.
"It was surprising because, you know, being its a metal facility, you don't really think fire. But I guess anything is possible,” said Larson.
Insurance adjusters are still looking at the facility, but initial damage estimates are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.