ST. CHARLES, MINN. — A large fire at North Star Foods meat-processing plant in St. Charles, Minn., resulted in city officials issuing an evacuation order for the town’s 3,600 residents on April 17 because the fire threatened tanks of anhydrous ammonia inside the plant, according to The Associated Press. According to plant manager Mark Eads, the fire started above an oven where chickens are cooked.
Residents were later allowed to return to their homes after an inspection found the tanks were safe and air quality in the area was acceptable, said Nick Koverman, City Administrator, on April 18.
Pat Thesing, co-owner of the company, said the plant, which processed chicken, turkey, beef, pork and other food products, is a total loss. However, there is interest in re-opening the business, possibly in St. Charles. The plant employed approximately 250 people.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation by the state fire marshal's office.