Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 9, 2001

Fire damages Poly Foam silo

By Ryan Gueningsman

A fire broke out at Poly Foam's wood chip silo in Lester Prairie Tuesday.

Officer Robert Carlson of the Lester Prairie Police Department, on duty at the time, received the call at 8:15 p.m.

When he arrived, the Lester Prairie Fire Department and Glencoe Aerial Lift Unit were both also en route to the scene.

"When I got there, I could see flames at the top of the silo," Carlson said. Before long, the Lester Prairie Fire Department, with the help of the lift unit, had the blaze under control.

The silo is used to hold wood shavings which are used for energy. All of its machines run on steam and these shavings are the main source of heat. They're used as a cheaper source of fuel for production.

"We've had a couple fires here in the past," said firefighter Jerry Pawelk. "It's hard to say how it started."

Lester Prairie Fire Chief Jim Hoof said that the shavings were pumped in there dry that afternoon. "There is no electricity in the silo, and it's possible a spark got in there somehow, or their processor did something to spark the flames. It could have just been spontaneous combustion too," Hoof said. "There is nothing suspicious about it."

For about an hour after the fire was extinguished, the fire departments used the aerial unit to check for "hot spots" and doused the inside with foam, to prevent anything from smoldering and possibly starting up again.

The fire was confined to the silo and the only damage was to the silo roof, and the wood shavings. No equipment was damaged and no one was injured.

Minimal damage was done by the blaze, however, flames started again Thursday about 8 p.m. Poly Foam had been in the process of emptying the silo during the day.

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