MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The plume of black, toxic smoke that filled the sky north of the Twin Cities for days this week was so massive that it was captured by a U.S. weather satellite.
The GOES-16 satellite captured the plume of smoke as it grew out of Northern Metal Recycling plant in Becker, where a pile of junked cars caught fire Tuesday morning and burned for nearly three days, sending particles metal and plastic into the sky.
A Twitter account called “NOAA Satellites – Public Affairs” shared a timelapse video of satellite footage, zooming in on central Minnesota to show a thread of black smoke emerging from a single point and drifting toward the Wisconsin border.
#SATELLITE SPOTLIGHT: On Feb. 19, @NOAA‘s #GOES16 🛰️ caught the #smoke plume from the #BeckerFire that burned for 2 days at a recycling plant in Becker, #MN. Black soot from the smoke was reported to have darkened #snow on the ground (white shading) downwind of the #fire. pic.twitter.com/dkR8znfWTH
— NOAA Satellites – Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) February 21, 2020
In response to the fire and putrid smoke, schools in Becker to cancel classes Thursday due to concerns over air quality. Additionally, air quality was downgraded in the Twin Cities, as the metro area was downwind from Becker.
Crews from several departments battled the fire for days, with help from the Minnesota National Guard. As of Friday, the flames had been replaced by steam rising the piles of charred cars.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is running tests on the impact of the fire in the Becker area. Initially tests suggested that the smoke was only an issue for those with respiratory issues, such as asthma.