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Fire atop Hibbing Public Utilities plant causes $30,000 in damage

Fire crews battle a fire atop the Hibbing Public Utilities steam plant on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Fagerstrom / Hibbing Fire Department)

Multiple agencies from across the Iron Range responded to a fire atop the seven-story Hibbing Public Utilities steam plant on Saturday night.

The Hibbing Fire Department responded just before 9 p.m. to a call of heavy smoke coming from the roof of the steam plant at 1902 Sixth Avenue East. The fire was located on the wood biomass side of the plant, officials said.

Utility personnel extinguished a fire on the main floor of the plant, but fire crews located a working fire on the roof deck. A large section of the roof insulation and rubber membrane had to be removed to check if the fire had spread; it was declared under control at about 10:30 p.m.

There were no reports of injuries, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Smoke, fire and water damage to the building is estimated at $30,000.

"There was an initial scare of an ammonia leak but (it) turned out to be a small leak in the plant's urea tank," the Hibbing Fire Department reported in a news release. "The fluid is fairly safe and the small leak was stopped by the plant workers."

The steam plant's boiler remained in operation during the fire response, which included personnel from Chisholm, Nashwauk, Keewatin, Buhl, Virginia and Cherry.

"The fire containment was successful in part due to the great mutual aid response from the neighboring fire and EMS departments," Hibbing fire officials said.