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Fire destroys feed mill

Seven fire departments respond to call

June 7, 2008
By FRITZ BUSCH Journal Staff Writer
MORGAN — A seven-alarm fire early Friday morning destroyed a Harvest Land Cooperative feed mill along State Highway 68.

At 12:40 a.m. Friday, a passerby reported what appeared to be smoke near the feed mill.

The passerby notified local police who paged the Morgan Fire Department.

Upon arrival, firefighters found the feed mill fully engulfed in flames.

A grease storage tank, which was used to add fat for feed production, made fire-fighting more challenging, according to an Associated Press (AP) story.

“It was like fighting a big oven fire. We went into a defensive mode to save the elevator,” said Morgan fire fighter Tim Birkemeyer. The elevator is located nearby.

Fire departments in Franklin, Morton, Redwood Falls, Clements, Springfield and Sleepy Eye were paged for assistance.

“We used lots of water on it. Our water tower level is down to 8 feet, and we’re still using water,” Birkemeyer said Friday morning.

Highway traffic was diverted away from the feed mill by law enforcement while firefighters battled the blaze through the wee hours of the morning.

Traffic remained detoured around the former feed mill on Friday.

Excel Energy, which supplies power to Morgan and the nearby Lower Sioux Community, cut off power to both places overnight due to overhead power lines located near Harvest Land.

Small amounts of smoke were still visible in the fire rubble by mid-morning Friday. The fire was declared under control by 7:45 a.m. Friday.

Despite windy weather, a distinct burned smell was detectable in the air near Harvest Land.

Morgan, Franklin and Clements firefighters remained on the scene, monitoring the building and helping construction crews clean up and remove fire debris.

Severe thunderstorms including frequent lightning moved through the area Thursday night, which may have caused the fire, according to a city of Morgan news release.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office was notified and will investigate the cause of the fire.

Farmer-owned Harvest Land — headquartered in Morgan — was formed about 15 years ago by the union of Morgan Farmers Elevator and Springfield Farmers Elevator Co.

The co-op now has facilities in Morgan, Springfield, Comfrey, Morton and Wabasso. It offers grain handling and marketing, crop protection, application, fuels, fertilizers and feed sales.

Feed supplies should not be interrupted due to the fire. Other feed producers have offered assistance to Harvest Land, according to the AP.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at'>

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Smoldering piles of debris are all that remains of the Harvest Land Cooperative feed mill in Morgan after an early morning blaze on Friday destroyed the facility. Firefighters focused on saving the adjacent elevator.



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