SARTELL – Verso Paper Mill’s plant manager says it was an Albany man who died in yesterday’s explosion in Sartell.

Plant Manager Matt Archambeau — speaking at a news briefing at Sartell City Hall this morning — identified the worker as Jon Maus of Albany.  He says four workers were treated and released at St. Cloud Hospital.  A fifth worker refused treatment.


There are media reports of a large air compressor exploding, but Archambeau says a cause has not been determined. But he says a preliminary inspection shows “very substantial damage” to the plant.

Sartell’s fire chief says the fire continues at the Sartell plant.  Ken Heim says the fire remains 90% contained, but there are still hot spots and flare-ups in a 250 by 400 foot area in the middle of a “finished paper warehouse.”

Heim says large rolls of tightly wound paper remain on fire this morning. He says putting out these rolls of paper is a challenge. He says crews may have to literally submerge the rolls in dumpsters filled with water to completely dowse them.

Area fire departments have been helping in the effort round-the-clock.  Wright County fire departments Annandale, Monticello and Buffalo relieved Sartell fire crews overnight in fighting the fire and getting Sartell fire crews off the scene for a few hours.

Heim says St. Cloud’s Hazardous Materials Team remains on-scene.  But he says at this point, there have been no issues with hazardous materials.  That’s because the warehouse is a finished paper shipping area — not an area where paper is actually made.

Heim says they hope to have a structural analysis of the plant yet today.  That analysis will tell him whether he can send people into the building to fight the fire and try to save the building.  He says while he has not been in the building yet, he knows there are “a couple breached walls” and some structural beams sitting on paper rolls.

Heim says the State Fire Marshall is on scene and will begin investigating once the building is secured.

Heim says they’ve had plenty of water to fight the fire and says the plant’s own fire pumps are now again working.  The initial explosion knocked out a water main at the plant Monday morning.

Hear the complete news conference held this morning at Sartell City Hall:

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