WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 14, 2012, 10:14 PM

Area fire departments continue to battle fire at Moorhead packaging plant

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Multiple departments continue to battle a fire at the Pactiv Plant in Moorhead.

Multiple departments continue to battle a fire at the Pactiv Plant in Moorhead. Damage estimates are already in the millions. The building is located off Highway 52 south of the Interstate 94 and just Southeast of RDO Equipment off of 30th Avenue.

Crews have now been battling this fire for nearly 7 hours as the call came in shortly after 3 this afternoon. The building is feared to be a total loss as officials tell us much of the ceiling has caved in and the foundation is cracking. Officials evacuated all 45 employees working at the time before crews arrived.

Jeff Manuel – Pactiv Plant Manager: “Everyone has been accounted for, all of our employees are out.”

The 130,000 square foot plant specializes in making egg cartons by using recycled newspaper and a natural gas oven.

Rich Duysen – Moorhead Fire Chief: “A lot of gas and heat in those ovens, so when they ignite all the lint and the paper lint at the ceiling level can ignite.”

Moorhead fire officials believe the fire started at the west end of the building at the pulp drier.

Rich Dueysen: “Lot of combustible's stored inside there; the sprinkler system was taxed, probably over 100 heads.”

For the fire chief, it's like nothing he's seen in his 18 years with the department.

Rich Duysen: “We've had some close calls at different places but other than training, never been involved in something this size.”

But a strong wind from the north has at least contained the fire to one building.

Rich Duysen: “There are no buildings to the south here, so that's been favorable, we're keeping the heat away from the existing buildings.”

Smoke could be seen as far away as Barnesville. It has been consistently pouring out of the building as crews have opened some areas to try and ventilate the plant. For Pactiv officials, it could be a devastating loss.

Jeff Manuel: “We make egg cartons and a bunch of other products, so we'll have to reassess what we need to do, but that'll come when we know more.”

Multiple crews have been on seen throughout the night giving aid, from Barnesville, Fargo, Dilworth, Glyndon and Sabin have been on seen throughout the night giving aid helping to fight the blaze. Officials tell me they will remain on scene for at least the next several hours until everything is contained.