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Forum News Service, Published March 27 2013

Steinbach named Minnesota fire investigator of the year

WILLMAR, Minn. - Deputy State Fire Marshal and Investigator John Steinbach has been named the 2012 fire investigator of the year by the Minnesota Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators.

The award will be presented to Steinbach today at the association’s conference in St. Cloud.

Steinbach, who has been a fire marshal and investigator for 16 years, was nominated, in part, for his work as the lead state investigator into the Verso Paper mill fire last May in Sartell. The fire claimed the life of one mill worker, Jon Maus, 51, of Albany, and injured five other workers. The plant, which employed 260 people, was closed.

The blaze burned for several days, and 92 fire departments battled the fire. Steinbach and the team of investigators determined that a lack of water flow to an air compressor caused the compressor to overheat and catch fire, which caused an explosion of an air tank and resulted in the paper-fueled fire.

“I am humbled and very honored,” Steinbach said regarding the award. “I don’t think that I went above and beyond the call of duty.”

Steinbach, of New London, was a volunteer firefighter for 18 years before he became a fire marshal and investigator.