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Wendy Reuer, Published January 04 2013

VIDEO: Owner hopes to rebuild Ada elevator damaged by fire

ADA, Minn. – A grain elevator fire that broke out here Thursday evening continued to smolder as crews worked to smother the smoke billowing into a clear blue sky Friday.

The scene of rubble and ash was a stark contrast to the night before when tall flames and smoke shot into the night after the fire was reported about 6 p.m.

Fire crews spent much of the evening trying to contain the fire to the elevator and an adjacent storage building to prevent it from spreading to a multi-million dollar addition built last summer by Triple Crown Nutrition.

Ada Fire Chief Steve Petry said a sprinkler system caused water damage inside the addition, but some of Triple Crown’s dozen or so employees were able to start cleanup Friday morning.

Triple Crown CEO Rob Daugherty said Friday he and the company are happy “everybody is safe and sound.” He said damage would still need to be added up and insurance sorted through, but he is hopeful the facility can be rebuilt.

“I would hope that we would rebuild and not move out of Ada,” he said.

Triple Crown, headquartered in Wayzata, processed whole oats and barley for race horse feed at the Ada plant, Daugherty said.

The cause of the fire and exact point of origin have not yet been determined. A state fire marshal arrived on scene about 1 p.m. Friday but as of press time had not released any further details about the fire.

Petry, who was operating on little sleep and donated meals brought to the firehouse by residents on Friday, said he expected crews would still be fighting the smoking ashes well into the weekend.

No injuries were reported in the fire. The area near the scene was icy from runoff fire hose water and made firefighting a challenge, firefighters said.

Firefighters said the city’s water tower was exhausted during the night and water was tanked into the city from surrounding areas. Freezing water ran west of the former elevator site and across Ada’s Main Street on Friday morning.

Throughout the day, Ada residents stopped and watched the smoking rubble. Many had gathered to watch the flames the night before.

Longtime resident William Kroshus said he could see the flames the night before from his home three blocks away.

Jim Olson, who owns property across the street from the elevator, drove up during the night from his home in Detroit Lakes, hoping the fire would not damage his property.

No surrounding structures were heavily damaged, Petry said.

Petry said he suspects the fire started near the top of the elevator, which reached 100 feet in the air.

Ada firefighters Scott Erickson and Blaine Erickson – no direct relation – were on scene through the night. Both said they had never seen such a large fire in Ada, but they were part of an elevator training fire in Halstad, about a year ago.

Petry, who has been fire chief since 1998, said he was glad his department of 27 volunteers took part in the exercise, which was a controlled burn of a similar structure.

“We’ve always known if it ever starts up it would be extremely difficult to get it stopped,” Petry said. “Our major concern was that it

didn’t get to any other businesses or properties to do more damage.”

Residents said Triple Crown was considered a mid-size employer for the city of about 1,700, which is about 45 miles northeast of Fargo.

In 1990, Triple Crown purchased the Ada business first built in 1952. Triple Crown operates in 15 mills across the nation and has built a reputation in horse racing circles for its high-quality feed.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530