No Injuries Reported Following Fire at Cedar Rapids Plant

By Emily Busse, Reporter

Cedar Rapids firefighters use a ladder truck to gain access to the roof of building 70 as they work to extinguish a fire at a gluten drier at Penford on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Penford's emergency responders were already working to extinguish the fire when Cedar Rapids firefighters arrived. A steam fire suppression system also activated. No injuries were reported and 20 employees had to be evacuated. Penford officials will investigate the cause of the fire. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Ian Philbrick

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - About 20 Penford Product employees have been evacuated while Cedar Rapids firefighters work to completely extinguish a fire at the plant.

According to a news release, firefighters responded to Penford Products, 1001 1st St. SW, at 1:40 p.m., after employees saw smoke coming from the roofline of Building 70 and called 911.

Firefighters found smoke and flames when they arrived at Building 70, which is used for gluten drying in the corn wet milling process, the release said.

The firefighters and Penford’s emergency response team members went to the fourth floor of the four-story building to extinguish the fire, which was near a dryer, exhaust fan, and insulation, the release said.

The firefighters also checked hoppers for hot embers. According to the department’s Public Information Officer, Greg Buelow, firefighters were still on scene as of 3:45 p.m., as they are “methodically” going through hoppers and checking for any fire extension. They found more fire in at least one of the hoppers, he said, and will be on scene for at least another two hours.

Though the employees are still evacuated, no injuries were reported, Buelow said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It is unknown how long Penford’s production process will be affected.

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