Rapid depletion of available water is dictating a change in tactics as Becker, Minnesota, firefighters battle a massive fire at a metals recycling yard that is expected to burn several more days.
Firefighters now plan to cut a fire break through the crushed vehicles to help protect buildings on the site, including the main source of electrical power to the scene, a press release issued by the Becker Police Department states.
“It has been determined that the best course of action is to separate a portion of the burning vehicle stack and let it burn itself out,” the release states.
Thanks to winds from the northwest, odor from the burning facility is noticeable in the Minneapolis – St. Paul metro area 50 miles away.
The fire at Northern Metals Recycling is expected to intensify Thursday, producing even more smoke. Owing to expected weather conditions, the plume should rise higher into the air and travel farther before dissipating.
Firefighters have worked in sub-freezing temperatures since the first report of fire at about 2:25 a.m. Tuesday. The fire, although contained to crushed vehicles in the wrecking yard, has generated heavy smoke, raising concerns about air quality.
No evacuation order for Becker has been issued. However, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health recommends that people concerned about their health should seek advice from medical care providers.
“In the meantime, advice to shelter-in-place or move away from the source of the smoke is the right advice for nearby occupants,” the release states.
Thursday classes at all schools in Becker, population 4,856, have been cancelled.
The recycling company moved its metal shredder operation to the eastern central Minnesota community last summer after an order from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to shut down its North Minneapolis site owing to pollution concerns.
A major fire broke out at that Minneapolis site in December 2016.