Two recycling-related fires occurred about a half-day apart on a 98-mile stretch of Interstate 94 in the upper Midwest.
In Garfield, Minn., Reprocessed Plastics Inc. suffered a blaze at about 4:10 a.m. March 14. The firm recycles post-industrial and post-consumer high density polyethylene to convert to pellets, sheet and plastic lumber. The fire was reported by workers in the plant to the 911 emergency line, said Kristine Chapin, spokeswoman for the Minnesota State Fire Marshal's office in St. Paul, Minn.
“The fire is out but the building is a total loss,” Chapin said March 15 by phone. No information was available on damage estimates, cause of the blaze or how long the investigation will take.
Several fire teams fought the fire for more than 12 hours, according to a statement from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. No injuries were reported.
Attempts to reach RPI officials by telephone and email were unsuccessful. The company's website notes the plant has 30,000 square feet of space on 15 acres. RPI touts capabilities in extrusion, thermoforming, computer numerically controlled cutting, welding and assembly.
Several hours after the RPI blaze began, fire broke out at a Pactiv Foodservice plant in Moorhead, N.D. A Pactiv spokeswoman said the operation makes egg cartons from recycled newspapers but does not produce any plastics goods.
Pactiv, based in Lake Forest, Ill., is North America's largest thermoformer.