Comparing Crystal Fires - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Moorhead Sugar Plant Fire

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Another fire at the Moorhead American Crystal plant is causing people to wonder if the plants are safe without the union employees. On August 1st, 1300 American Crystal union members were locked out of their jobs after a contract dispute.

The fire happened around 4:30 Thursday morning in the pulp dryer and spread to the room next to it. No one was injured but there was a considerable amount of damage.

This, along with all the other fires, makes Ross Perrin and other union members shake their heads.

"It's kind of strange. Six fires out of the valley and the equipment is being monitored by people running it," says union member, Ross Perrin.

"The pulp dryer at crystal sugar had a fire inside it and the extinguishing system that's in it had gone off and they were having a hard time getting some of the hot spots off," says Moorhead Fire Marshal Rich Duysen.

The pulp dryer is one of the most fire prone places in the plants and there's always someone there to watch it.

"There's a control room where there's an engineer I believe he's an engineer that would sit and monitor a lot of controls," says Duysen.

This is the second fire at Moorhead's plant since the lockout began. In the past five years, there has only been one other fire that's required a fire department response.

Duysen says "They've had a really good safety record over the years."

We called the fire departments in all five communities with plants. The numbers in Dryaton, Hillsboro and Crookston haven't changed. However, East Grand Forks has had one fire since the lockout... and only a total of two in the past five years.

"They'll write it off as a common occurrence. Any situation you know that you have like this can turn into a devastating event. Lucky nobody got hurt," says Perrin.

There is no significant difference in the amount of fires at American Crystal plants around the valley with the exception of Moorhead's having two. However, that does not show if it is at the fault of the replacement workers.

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