VIDEO: R.D. Offutt potato warehouse burns near Perham, Minn.Fire crews battled a large blaze Tuesday night at an R.D. Offutt Co. potato warehouse near Perham, Minn. Ron Offutt says building, potatoes and equipment were destroyed, but nobody was injured.
By: Forum News Service ,
PERHAM, Minn. — A large blaze destroyed an R.D. Offutt Co. potato warehouse near Perham, Minn., Jan. 21.
Along with the building, the fire destroyed potatoes and miscellaneous equipment used in the loadout process, according to Ron Offutt, the company’s founder and chairman.
“Fortunately, there were no injuries to any employees and it was limited solely to property damage,” he says. “At this time we have no knowledge as to the cause and origin of the fire, and will continue to work with our insurers and local authorities to investigate and determine the cause and extent of damage.”
“We are very thankful that no one was injured and would like to thank the emergency responders and volunteers who were involved in fighting and controlling this fire,” says Keith McGovern, CEO of R.D. Offutt Co.
A Perham police officer on the scene said the fire was called in at about 4:20 p.m. Witnesses said the fire originated in the south part of the building and spread north.
King said crews ran into some issues with fire hydrants freezing up earlier in the evening, but city workers quickly solved the problem. A broken water main in the area also added to the night’s challenges, but did not have much of an effect on water pressure at other hydrants.
Lake Region Electric Cooperative crews were also present after the fire broke out. A Lake Region representative said they shut off power to the warehouse and cut away all electric cables connected to it.
After part of the south-facing exterior wall collapsed at about 6:15 p.m., heavy equipment was used to pull down the remaining side of the structure and remove debris.
According to a news release from the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, an R.D. Offutt employee reported the fire after noticing smoke coming from the warehouse.
Perham EMS and a school bus were on the scene to provide support and a warming area for firefighters and law enforcement officers.
Volunteers with the American Red Cross also were setting up at the Perham Fire Hall to provide food, water, coffee and hot chocolate for the roughly 120 responders.
Roads around warehouse the area had been blocked off during the initial emergency response, but traffic controllers began letting vehicles through later in the evening.
After the burning material was pushed back from the railroad, train traffic was allowed to resume through the area, as well.
Editor's note: Mikkel Pates contributed to this report.