'Major progress' made as Becker fire continues to burn

The blaze erupted in a pile of cars early Tuesday morning.
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Northern Metals fire (ok to use)

The burning stack of vehicles at Northern Metal Recycling in Becker remains on fire for a third consecutive day, although authorities say "major progress" is being made. 

"As of this morning, major progress has been made," said Becker Police Department. "Fire crews continue to manage smoldering hot spots within the debris pile. What is visible currently is a considerable amount of steam coming from the debris piles as the areas within the piles burn out."

The fire is under control and crews are maintaining a significant presence at the scene to make sure the fire doesn't spread to any surrounding vehicle piles or buildings at the recycling facility. 

With water being rapidly depleted by the extensive fire control operations, a decision was made Wednesday evening to let the fire burn itself out. The decision came as a result of recommendations from the State Fire Marshal, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the Minnesota Department of Health, among other experts. 

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On Thursday, a third-party group hired by Northern Metals Recycling was brought in to test air quality from the smoke plume. Mayor Tracy Bertram says air quality tests are also being performed by the MPCA and Federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

"We will release those results as soon as we are able through the Police Department releases," Mayor Bertram said. "We are continually monitoring weather conditions and working with emergency managers to make sure our citizens are immediately notified if there would be any concerns related to the air quality."

Becker Public Schools were closed on Thursday as a precaution.

Anyone concerned about their health from the smoke plume is urged to contact a health care professional. 

Bertram noted that once the fire is out she will shift her focus to "learning what caused this fire and doing everything I can to make sure it won't ever happen again." 

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