In 2012, an explosion and fire ripped through a Verso mill in Minnesota, killing one employee and injuring five others.

The Sartell mill, which burned for days, suffered $60 million in damages and lost about $18 million worth of material, according to a report by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal.

In that case, the blast “occurred in a tank for one of the large air compressors that powered equipment in the plant.”

As employees raced to deal with the flames, a second, much larger explosion rocked the plant, the report said.

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said a mill air receive tank exploded just as workers who survived the first explosion saw smoke and flames. One said he turned to run, heard a loud boom and “went flying.”

The state report pegged the cause as an overheated compressor that was supposed to shut down automatically if it got too hot, but that did not happen.

“It is possible that the oil used to lubricate the compressor ignited in the high temperatures, setting off the explosion and subsequent fire,” the report said.

In the end, Verso closed the destroyed facility. A developer demolished it almost two years after the Memorial Day disaster, officially eliminating 220 jobs in the small town.

The Duluth News Tribune reported that the plant’s demise had a serious effect on loggers in the region as well as equipment dealers and others who had sold products and services to the Verso mill.

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