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Erik Burgess, Published January 04 2013

NEW VIDEO: Crews hosing down site of Ada grain elevator fire

ADA, Minn. – The fire is still smoldering and crews remain on scene battling the smoking rubble. Residents of Ada have dropped by the scene throughout Friday morning, watching as smoke pillows into a clear blue sky.

No injuries were reported in the fire but the area near the scene is icy. Freezing water from fire crews' efforts is running west of the former elevator site and across Ada's Main Street.

Fire Chief Steve Petry said he expects the fire will continue to smolder for another day or so.

A state fire marshal is expected to arrive on scene this afternoon. A cause of the fire and exact point of origin have yet to be determined.

- Wendy Reuer

Thursday night's story below

Flames burning down a grain elevator is a scene all too familiar to some longtime residents here.

In the same spot that a grain elevator burned down in the late 1950s, the Triple Crown Nutrition elevator on East Main Street was engulfed and toppled by flames late Thursday evening.

Firefighters responded to the fire around 6 p.m. according to Ada Fire Chief Steve Petry. The elevator complex sits in the center of the town of about 1,700 people.

Crews from multiple agencies battled flames on the roughly 10-story elevator and an adjacent building for around 4 hours. Around 9:20, the elevator collapsed.

“The (elevator) is on the ground unfortunately, so we’ll just have to do a lot of mop up over the next numerous, numerous hours,” Petry said.

The adjacent storage building, used for housing oats and other feed mixture, was also left in smoldering ruins.

Petry said the fire appeared to start on the roof of the elevator. Into the late night hours, the pitch black sky was aglow with the orange from the blaze.

“We could see the flames then about six miles out of town,” said Ada resident Dwight Heitman, who was driving into town earlier in the evening.

Crews from multiple counties and agencies worked to put the fire out. Petry said around 13 fire departments aided the Ada Fire Department, including Moorhead and Crookston departments.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Petry said no employees were believed to be in the building at the time the fire started. He said Triple Crown Nutrition, which mainly produces oat-based feed for race horses, employs about 12 people.

Last summer the company added a $4.5 million addition to the elevator, but it was not damaged by the fire, Petry said.

He did not have an estimate on the total amount of damage, but Petry said the new addition was saved thanks to a concentrated effort by fire crews.

Battling below-freezing temperatures, many residents watched the blaze from an alleyway a block away.

“It saddens the heart to see a business thriving and then this happens,” Myron Moteberg, of Ada, said.

Firefighters were also concerned for businesses and homes to the north and east of the elevator as Petry said “all kinds of burning embers were approaching those buildings.” He said firefighters watched the roofs to make sure they also didn’t catch fire, but were aided by the fact that some buildings had about 6 inches of snow on their roofs. Petry said it appears there was no damage to surrounding buildings.

By 10 p.m., most of the fire was extinguished, but a large plume of white smoke was visible above the smoldering remains of the elevator.

Several residents also recalled when a similar fire took down a building in the same location in the late ’50s.

“I was just a kid looking out my bedroom window at the east end of town then,” said Chuck Nordby, a 62-year-old farmer.

Moteberg, who has lived here for 35 years, said the most devastating part for him was that Triple Crown was doing well.

“The business was working and growing, in fact. They’re selling race horse oats all over the country and have for years and years,” he said.

“And now it’s toast,” his son Preston added.