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Firefighters batteled a large fire at the Sonnenberg Mink Farm east of Detroit Lakes, Minn., on Friday morning. The fire is thought to have started when a spark from an incinerator caught the pile of mink bedding in front of the building on fire. Brian Basham/DL Newspapers

Fire destroys building at mink farm near Detroit Lakes

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By Brian Basham / DL Online

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- A spark from an incinerator was believed to have started a fire Friday morning that destroyed the office and feed mixing building at the Sonnenberg Mink Farm east of Detroit Lakes.

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An ember from the incinerator presumably landed on a large pile of mink bedding, which quickly caught fire and spread to the building next to it.

Firefighters from Detroit Lakes, Frazee, Audubon, Lake Park and Vergas tried to control the fire and keep it to just one building on the property.

A major concern for Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Dave Baer was a 700-gallon tank of phosphoric acid housed close to the office building.

“Phosphoric acid burns very violently,” Baer said. “We’re trying to contain it with a sand dyke if it does happen to rupture.”

According to owner Roxanne Sonnenberg, the phosphoric acid is mixed into the mink feed to control the acidity of the food.

Farm owner Bob Sonnenberg said he was the only one in the office when the fire started, and he got out right away.

“I saw some plastic moving on the wall and looked outside to see what was going on and (the building) was on fire,” he said.

The mink farm houses 45,000 baby mink, along with the farm’s breeding stock. Roxanne said the farm’s harvest should start in about a month, and the final month of growth is critical for the mink.

“Our first concern is getting the power back and getting the water back on for the mink,” she said.

She said while a total loss, the building was fully insured.

“At least all of our bookwork isn’t in there,” she said.

As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, several fire departments were still on scene fighting the blaze.

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