Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency Thursday for a large-scale fire at Resolute Forest Products’ recycled bleached kraft pulp mill in the state’s Upper Peninsula.
The fire at the site in Menominee, Michigan, began Oct. 6 around 11 p.m. in a warehouse at the mill and, though officials say the fire is contained, has been burning for more than a week. According to local reports, no injuries have been reported, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been on scene to evaluate air monitoring data as there is an 8,000-gallon tank of peroxide in the fire’s likely path.
“Through this emergency declaration, we are dedicating every available resource to fire suppression efforts, environmental protection and financial assistance for the local response,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We will be there to assist until the emergency response is completed.”
State officials say despite local efforts, the city of Menominee needs additional state support to combat the fire and resources are needed to provide technical assistance to ensure water runoff from fire suppression efforts do not threaten local water supplies.
The Marinette County Highway Department Division of Emergency Management told The Sault News that it expects the fire to continue burning for several days, and firefighters from different stations across the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin have assisted local firefighters in their efforts to combat the blaze.
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A spokesperson for Resolute told WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin, that the warehouses and offices at the facility are a total loss, but the mill’s machinery was “spared from significant damage.” There is no timetable for plant operations to resume, but Resolute says they will be suspended at least through the month of October.
The Menominee facility has 98 employees and produces 100 percent recycled bleached kraft pulp with an annual capacity of 171,000 metric tons.