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Becker fire still burns despite major overnight effort

Firefighters will remain at the site throughout Wednesday.
A picture taken Wednesday morning by Sara Tasa.

A picture taken Wednesday morning by Sara Tasa.

More than 24 hours after fire broke out at the recycling plant in Becker, there is little sign of the blaze letting up.

There was a massive overnight effort by numerous fire departments to knock down the fire at the North Metals Recycling plant, with the Becker Police Department providing an update on Wednesday morning.

Fifteen fire departments assisted the operation between 6 p.m. and midnight, with 18 involved between midnight and 6 a.m.

The Minnesota All-Hazards Incident Management team is now on site, with fire crews expected to remain at the scene throughout Wednesday at least.

Fox 9 is reporting that it could take days to fully extinguish the fire.

Residents around Becker have been advised to stay inside or in well-ventilated areas, with the massive smoke plume emitted from the fire raising concerns over noxious fumes.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been at the scene testing air quality.

The fire comes only a few months after North Metals Recycling shut down its metal shredder facility in North Minneapolis to move to Becker, after being ordered to do so after it was found to be a significant contributor to air pollution in the north of the city.

Prior to the move, Northern Metals COO Scott Helberg said in a statement to MinnPost that its new Becker facility is "state-of-the-art" and would "set the benchmark for sustainability and environmental protection for the recycling industry in Minnesota and the nation."

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Becker Public Schools issued a statement to parents on Tuesday, saying that school will continue as normal despite the ongoing fire, but that regular checks of wind direction and indoor air quality will be made.

"We believe that students are in a safe air environment when they are in school," said Superintendent Jeremy Schmidt. "Our systems use filtered air and we have the ability to increase and decrease outside air, while some homes may not have this ability."

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