Fire, Explosion Destroy Minnesota Industrial Building

Sixty firefighters responded to an early-afternoon explosion and fire at a South Saint Paul, MN industrial building, requiring area evacuations.

Just before 2 P.M., on Oct. 11, firefighters from South Saint Paul were dispatched to the Bridgepoint Business Park for a reported explosion at Epoxical, Inc., a facility that manufactures resins and polyurethanes for automotive and aerospace. The initial response was one engine and one ladder from South Saint Paul and an engine from West Saint Paul on automatic mutual aid.

South Saint Paul Engine 1 arrived just a minute later and found heavy smoke and fire showing from the one-story facility and was greeted by the owner of the facility who said that all personnel were accounted for. Several large fire balls shot 50 feet into the air as the thick black smoke could be seen for miles almost immediately.

"The owner came up to us and said 'If we lose everything in that building, that's fine. I just want to try and save everything in the little office building'" said Interim South Saint Paul Fire Chief Harry Rund. The office area, on the west side of the complex, was separated from the intense fire by a fire wall.

Mutual aid was requested with an aerial platform from West Saint Paul, an aerial platform, engine and Telesqurt from Inver Grove Heights and a Telesqurt from Mendota Heights. With a sustainable water supply in the industrial complex, large diameter hose was laid out and supplied five aerial devices that poured water into the building. Several handlines were also placed into operation.

Area residents quickly evacuated, with over 2,000 people forced from the business park alone. Area roads, including Interstate 494 were shut down due to the heavy smoke pouring from the building.

The regional Haz Mat unit from the Saint Paul Fire Department responded to the scene took air samples from areas where the smoke was pushed to by steady southerly winds. As far south as five miles, schools held children inside until air samples proved clean.

It took about 90 minutes to get the fire under control and units stayed on scene for several hours mopping up. Early estimates put damage at $2 million.