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Former paper plant in central Minnesota catches fire

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The old Verso paper mill in Sartell, Minnesota, which was shut down after a huge explosion and fire two years ago, was ablaze again Wednesday night. Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles.

The fire was reported about 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the Sartell Fire Department was the first to respond, according to the St. Cloud Times. Emergency crews from around the area are assisting the Sartell department.

A huge explosion rocked the facility on Memorial Day 2012, killing one person and injuring several others. Verso Paper never reopened the plant after that, and in early 2013 sold it to American Iron & Metal Co., a Montreal-based scrap metal and recycling company, according to WCCO.

The paper mill's 260 employees lost their jobs as a result of the plant closing.

Shortly after purchasing the site, the new owners said they would not reopen the paper mill, MPR News reported at the time.

"We're not going to run the paper mill. It's gone. There's no market for that," said Herbert Black, president and CEO of American Iron & Metal Co. in January 2013. "But there's buildings there that will be recycled, meaning reused. We'll be looking to make a development there."

AIM began demolishing some of the structures on the site in September, according to MPR News.

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Verso Paper Corp. says it has received about $40 million in insurance money after the explosion and fire that killed one worker and injured four other employees in Sartell, Minn., on Memorial Day, the St. Cloud Times reports. The company expects to collect an additional $44 million settlement.

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