Despite the efforts of a dozen local fire departments, a grain elevator that caught fire in the western Minnesota town of Clinton on Sunday morning could not be saved.
By 8 p.m., an evacuation order was lifted and the danger had passed, but the damage was done. The building had fallen in, the elevator itself was gone and an office area was destroyed, said Janine Teske, who lives nearby.
"Our community could use some prayers right now," Teske said in a video posted to Facebook as the fire raged. "It breaks my heart."
Officials in Clinton, which has about 500 people and sits about 110 miles south of Fargo, declared a civil emergency by midday. Residents were advised not to use water, roads were closed and those living within 3 blocks were told to evacuate.
Multiple agencies had responded to the former Clinton Co-Op Farmers Association elevator. Wheaton Dumont Co-Op now owns the elevator, Teske said.
Photos showed a big orange blaze and clouds of smoke surrounding the elevator.
About 5 p.m., the fire was still burning, Teske said.
"From what I can understand, they're letting it burn and then knocking it down so they can control it," she said, adding that the debris was falling inward.
Teske said she didn't know how the fire started. The elevator had been adding a new grain bin, she said.
The whole community pitched in to fight the flames. Local farmers brought semitrailer trucks of water to help, and a local bar was providing food and water to the firefighters working in the heat, she said.
The Red Cross is providing help with lodging, a news release said, and city officials were calling residents living near the elevator to ask if they needed a place to stay. Road detours were expected to last all night.
The elevator was the heart of the community, Teske said.
"It's been part of the skyline for years and we're a farming community," she said. "It brings people to town, it brings business to town."
Erin Adler • 612-673-1781