MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO has learned there have been at least two fires in a week at a manufacturing plant that is already under investigation for polluting.

Water Gremlin in White Bear Township called the fires very minor, and said employees put them out.

The company has been under the microscope since the beginning of the year, when state officials learned the company emitted an unsafe level of a toxic chemical into the air for more than 15 years.

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More recently, the state temporarily shut down the plant after workers unknowingly brought lead home, poisoning some kids.

People who live near Water Gremlin said it smelled awful, different from normal, and it stung when they breathed in.

WCCO confirmed there was a fire Friday morning at Water Gremlin in White Bear Township, in addition to a fire last Friday, Dec. 20.

(credit: CBS)

Water Gremlin, which makes lead fishing sinkers and battery terminal posts, reports the fires were related to a die cast machine that is used in production.

Carl DuBois with Water Gremlin provided this statement to WCCO:

There were very minor fires related to a die cast machine last Friday morning and this morning. Both were put out by employees who are trained to respond and assess the situation to determine if calling the fire department and evacuating the facility is necessary, which it was not in either case. No one was injured, no equipment was damaged and no chemicals were involved.

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Firefighters and emergency personnel did respond to a fire at Water Gremlin in late June. WCCO cameras captured smoke billowing from the building and evacuated workers waiting outside.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the fire was in the vent ducting equipment related to Water Gremlin’s lead coating operation. The responding fire departments helped the production crew put it out with chemical extinguishers. It was called a minor fire with no injuries.

Minnesota OSHA said on Friday a company doesn’t have to alert them about a fire unless a worker is injured.

The MPCA has not yet responded to Friday’s request for information.

Jennifer Mayerle

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