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South St. Paul company fights fire with 'sticky water'

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For the most part, water is your friend when it comes to firefighting, but what if you could make water ... better?

That's the question posed in a story on a South St. Paul company in the Pioneer Press. EarthClean is making a fire-retardant gel-type "material" called TetraKO, which is supposed to stop fire in its tracks.

"Say you've got a wall on fire. What does the water do when it hits the wall? It falls off," says Terry Lund, a 24-year veteran of the Woodbury Fire Department who developed the material with his father. "Now, we've got water that sticks to the wall."

Sure! Sounds great! What is it?

A couple of chemists came up with the basic recipe for TetraKO some 10 years ago, and have been tinkering with it ever since. When combined with water, it was transformed into a "translucent gel that smothered fire much faster than anything the two men had previously seen," according to the Pioneer Press. They called it Fire Jell.

From there, the paper lays out a narrative of business ups and downs over the years, but the paper notes that the folks behind TetraKO are about to be visited by people from NOVA, the PBS science program, next week.

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