Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 30, 2001

Late-night fire burns out Sonstegard egg processing firm

By Lynda Jensen

An early morning fire July 13 devastated Sonstegard's Foods, an egg processing facility on Wright County Road 6 in Howard Lake.

No one was hurt in the blaze, although three employees were working at the plant at the time when the fire call was made, said owner business owner Phil Sonstegard

The Howard Lake and Cokato fire departments answered a call there at midnight, Howard Lake Fire Chief Joe Drusch said.

"The flames were just shooting up," commented Sonstegard employee Orvella Doering.

A slight explosion, spark, or form of combustion appeared to cause the fire, Sonstegard said.

"Everything inside the building was damaged," Sonstegard said. The damage was "quite significant," he said. "It was a total loss."

One out of two egg dryers was totally destroyed, he said. The egg dryers take up the bulk of the volume inside the building, along with bins that process eggs.

Fire crews spent four hours on the scene, from midnight until 4 a.m., extinguishing the blaze, Drusch said.

Currently, the building is unsafe and the roof may cave in, Sonstegard said. Crews have been working on clean-up efforts, he added.

A total of eight to 10 people were employed there, Sonstegard said. Now three are there helping clean up, waiting to see what will happen, he said. Operations have ceased at the facility since the night of the fire, Doering said.

The question of whether he will rebuild cannot be answered until he receives word from the insurance agency, Sonstegard said.

Sonstegard owns several plants located in Iowa and a head office in Sioux Falls, S.D., he said.

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