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Fire at MN Recycling Plant Affecting Air Quality

Minnesota hazmat fire
Firefighters remained on the scene of a fire that has been burning for more than 24 hours at the Northern Metal Recycling plant, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Becker, Minn. Firefighter Toni Knutson says the fire is burning under a huge pile of cars. She says cranes are being used to remove the vehicles from the pile one-by-one. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)

BECKER, Minn. (AP) — Officials are monitoring the air quality in Becker where a fire at a metal recycling plant has been burning for more than 24 hours.

Firefighters continued to fight the stubborn blaze Wednesday after working all day and through the night Tuesday at Northern Metal Recycling plant.

Firefighter Toni Knutson says the fire is burning under a huge pile of cars. She says cranes are being used to remove the vehicles from the pile one-by-one as firefighters spray water on the fire.

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Knutson says dozens of firefighters are on the scene, with aid coming from as far as two hours away.

The city requested help from the National Guard, the state Pollution Control Agency and Health Department.

The Star Tribune reports police have told residents with respiratory problems who live near the plant to stay inside or in well-ventilated areas.

A passerby first spotted the fire about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Northern Metals moved its shredding operation from Minneapolis to Becker last year after the Pollution Control Agency ordered it shut down because of high levels of air pollution and inaccurately recorded pollution readings.

Becker, with a population of about 4,500, is about 48 miles (77 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis.

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