Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A day after a paper mill explosion killed a man and shook the community of Sartell, Minn., a mill worker says he still feels nervous, shaken by the blast.
Scott Lazer works at Verso Paper Mill, the mill that sustained a large explosion Monday. He says he was just walking out to the front of the machine when the explosion occurred.
“There was this BOOM, a big blast,” he said. “It just shook me – shook me to the core.”
Lazer says he’s still nervous about the explosion, which sent out a shockwave that rattled windows and walls around Sartell.
Lazer has worked at the mill for 34 years and says he’s never experienced anything like that before. He was able to grab a flashlight and join other employees who were escaping the building, which had caught fire.
Lazer said the mood after the blast was a somber one.
“There wasn’t much talk,” he said. “It was scary.”
He said everyone who made it out knew that one man — 50-year-old Jon Maus — was missing.
Maus’ father said his son died in the blast. Maus was a father of four children (ages 7 – 20) and worked for Verso for nearly a decade before being laid off. He was hired back in a temporary position about a month before the explosion.
Lazer described Maus as friendly and outgoing.
“I really like the man,” he said.
For now, Lazer and other Verso workers will try to deal with the event; they have not been told when they’ll be able to go back to work.
Gov. Mark Dayton, who surveyed the damage by helicopter Tuesday, said the priority is to put out the fire and assess the damage, so that the largest private tax payer in the county can get people back to work.
At last report, authorities said the fire was 90 percent contained.