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Fire under control at metal galvanizing plant in West Fargo

WEST FARGO - A fire that heavily damaged a metal galvanizing plant here Tuesday night is under control, and hazardous materials inside have been contained, Assistant Police Chief Mike Reitan said at around 6:30 a.m. today.

An estimated 60 firefighters and hazmat crew members spent the night battling the blaze at K&K Galvanizers, located on the 1200 block of Seventh Avenue Northeast in West Fargo's industrial park.

No one was injured, Reitan said.

"The individuals that were testing the air quality indicated that they have some irritation, but we don't know if that was from the hazardous material or just from the smoke itself associated with the fire," he said.

Officials were concerned about the plume of smoke from the fire because the building was reported to contain hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and zinc used in the galvanizing process.

A CodeRED alert advised people downwind to take shelter. The alert covered an area bordered by 45th Street on the east and Ninth Street on the west and extended north of the fire to Harwood.

"It certainly was opportune that the wind was out of the south carrying the smoke into an area that is less densely populated, and that they were able to contain the hazardous material on scene," Reitan said.

Crews built dikes to contain some hydrochloric acid that was released, he said.

A passerby initially reported billowing black smoke at 4658 7th Ave. N. shortly before 10:30 p.m. No one was working in the building at the time, Reitan said.

Reitan said the building, which he estimated to be roughly 100 feet by 300 feet, was heavily damaged.

"It'll probably be a total loss," he said.

Firefighters were mopping up the scene this morning. The hazardous material was contained in a relatively small area, he said.

Officials plan to begin investigating the cause of the fire when the scene is declared safe and there's more daylight, Reitan said.

About 35 firefighters from West Fargo were assisted by 15 firefighters from Fargo and 10 from Moorhead, including F-M hazmat team members, he estimated.

Seventh Avenue, 12th Avenue North and 19th Avenue North were all closed between 45th Street and Ninth Street East for a large portion of the night, with traffic being rerouted to Main Avenue. Only Seventh Avenue remained closed this morning, and Reitan said it would likely stay closed for at least another hour.