BECKER, Minn. (FOX 9) - In their third day battling the blaze, officials say “major progress has been made” in fighting the Northern Metals Recycling car debris fire in Becker, Minn. Thursday morning.
Additionally, Becker Police say the “fire is being maintained and is under control and this point.”
In a release, the Becker Police Department says a fire break has been successfully established to separate the burning car debris from the rest of the lot. The plan, announced Wednesday, is to let the separated section burn out.
"The decision is based on the fact that water resources from Becker and surrounding areas are being rapidly depleted," said Becker Police in a release. "The resulting fire will be more intense and will produce more black smoke, but the plume is expected to rise higher into the air and travel farther before dissipating."
The Northern Metals fire in Becker, Minn. rages two days after it started. (Derek Baas)
Crews say steam coming from the debris is what is most visible.
Officials say separating and burning down the engulfed stack will help protect firefighters' health and buildings on the property.
Air quality sampling is being conducted Thursday by a third party consultant. The results of that sample will be released after it’s concluded.
The Becker, Minn. fire at Northern Metals rages on Wednesday. (Derek Baas)
The fire is creating so much smoke the massive plume can be seen from miles away. It was even picked up on FOX 9 radar. Some people said they could smell the fire as far away as Woodbury.
The Becker Police Department said the fire broke out inside a mountain of crushed cars early Tuesday morning. Firefighters from 18 different fire departments are still on the scene overnight trying to put out the flames, which keep flaring up.
Police told businesses in the path of the smoke to turn off their ventilation systems and warned people downwind to limit their time outdoors, urging people with respiratory issues to stay indoors.
As a precaution, Becker Schools closed its buildings and cancelled classes Thursday as firefighters made progress.
Northern Metals had not even started its shredding operation at the Becker facility, which it moved to last year after agreeing to shut down its metal shredding operations in north Minneapolis over air quality concerns.
Statement from Northern Metals:
A fire was reported at 2:25 a.m. yesterday at Northern Metal’s plant at 12432 Energy Drive in Becker. The incident was contained to the plant’s feed stock area. The facility is not yet operational. There were no injuries and no damage to buildings or equipment. Northern Metals greatly appreciates the efforts of the responders and thanks them for working to extinguish the fire.