Small ceremony commemorates big fire in St. Charles - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Small ceremony commemorates big fire in St. Charles


ST. CHARLES, N (KTTC DT) -- A year ago Saturday, a devastating fire wiped out a small Minnesota town's biggest employer.

Crews spent 28 hours battling the fire at North Star Foods in St. Charles on April 17, 2009.

The meat processing plant employed about 250 people. The threat of toxic fumes forced emergency crews to evacuate the town.

Saturday, city leaders recognized two people for their efforts that day.

Brandon Stall prevented millions of gallons of contaminated water from polluting the Whitewater River.

While North Star's maintanence worker Larry Young provided vital information to firefighters and hazardous material personnel fighting to save lives.

Young says, "Priority one was to get the ammonia system locked up so that it didn't create a spillover in St. Charles, that was my main goal, didn't want to hurt anybody."

St. Charles Mayor Bill Spitzer says, "People from Rochester, Stewartville, I'm leaving out several, but there's many agencies that came to our assistance and we're very fortunate for them because without their help it would have been much worse."

No one was injured in the fire. The plant decided against rebuilding and instead a 37-acre business has been proposed for the site.

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