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Fire at Tuffy’s caused by truck mishap

Tuffy's fire

Through a chain of unfortunate circumstances, what might have been a minor accident turned into an event that required a multi-agency response at Tuffy’s Pet Foods plant in Perham on July 27.

No injuries were reported, however, damage estimates were still being completed as of press time on Tuesday.

According to law enforcement reports, early Monday afternoon, a truck driver accidentally backed his semi-tractor and trailer into an electrical transformer box on the ground.

This accident damaged the electrical box, causing a short-circuit that then knocked out power to the plant for a short time.

According to a statement from KLN Family Brands, the parent company of Tuffy’s, the accident caused a fire in the transformer and the small extruder room.

“This is affecting our production, but we are still determining to what extent,” the statement continued.

Responding to the fire were 44 firefighters from the Perham, Vergas and New York Mills fire departments, along with the Perham EMS, Perham and New York Mills police departments, and Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office.

Part of the size of the response was due to the day’s weather: according to the National Weather Service, the temperature was 84 degrees, with 62 percent humidity and a heat index of 88 at the time.

“On hot days like this, we start calling for more help early, so we have plenty of manpower to help,” said Perham’s Fire Chief, Mark Schmidt. “EMS helps a ton by getting the water on ice and keeping everyone hydrated.”

Schmidt said the department also does preparations for responding to fires at sites such as Tuffy’s by conducting walk-throughs during practice events and having established pre-plans.

Damage was done to the semi trailer, transformer box and also inside the Tuffy’s plant.

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