A recycling plant in north Minneapolis caught fire Tuesday morning, sending up huge clouds of smoke and disrupting traffic, authorities said.
The blaze broke out about 10:10 a.m. at Northern Metal Recycling in the 1800 block of 2nd Street N., a site bordered by Interstate 94 to the west and the Mississippi River to the east. The fire was declared under control shortly before 1 p.m.
Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said there were drums of kerosene inside. He said the chemical is used for processing metals for recycling.
There were no reports of anyone harmed from the fire, which released continuous clouds of smoke that could be seen for miles against the blue sky. Government health officials have checked air quality in the immediate area and registered no adverse readings, a fire official said.
Company President Steve Ettinger said only a handful of people were on the property at the time of the fire.
Assistant Fire Chief Chuck Brynteson said at the scene that the fire's origin appears to be connected to some vehicles being prepared for scrapping.
Ettinger said that "there is a vehicle recycling operation in the building whereby autos are drained of fluids, oil, gas, etc., before being completely recycled."
Because of the chemicals inside, Tyner said, fire personnel battled the flames strictly from the outside.
Fire personnel in aerial ladder trucks drenched the top of the building with water more than an hour after the fire began.
By 11:10 a.m., fire personnel said much of the blaze was knocked down, with one small area inside still burning.
Firefighters and their vehicles remained on the scene and smoke continued to stream out of the building into the early afternoon, Tyner urged everyone to stay out of the way of 2nd Street and Broadway.
West Broadway and Washington Avenue were shut down in that area, and the exit ramp from westbound I-94 to those roads was temporarily closed to keep vehicles from getting too close to the fire, Tyner said.
Late this summer, a Ramsey County judge ordered a key portion of the facility to cease operations because of air pollution concerns from the plant along the Mississippi River.
Northern Metal Recycling bills itself as "the Upper Midwest's leading metal recycler," with operations in Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minneapolis, where it's headquartered. Its website says the company is "committed to the highest level of environmental responsibility, best-practices plant operations and quality customer service."