By John Lauritsen

SARTELL, Minn. (WCCO) – Fifty workers were inside Sartell’s Verso Paper Mill when something exploded in the warehouse just before 11:30 Monday morning. The fire that ensued was fed by rolls of paper that weighed more than 2 tons a piece.

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A woman living nearby the Mill said the blast rocked her home, shaking walls and windows.

One worker lost their life, while a firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion and five others were taken to the hospital.

A spokesperson for the Verso Mill made a statement to the media.

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“Our hearts go out to the family of one of our team members today. We did have a fatality, and we’ve had five injuries, and this is a very sad day for Verso and the Verso family,” said the spokesman.

It took help from 14 mutual-aid fire departments, five police departments and water from a state patrol helicopter to get the fire mostly under control.

People were told to stay inside their homes because of the smoke. And the nearby rail line was shut down for more than five hours.

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What isn’t known yet is what caused the explosion, but what seems to be on the mind of everyone Monday night is the life that was lost.

John Lauritsen