Weather Forecast


Seven fire departments battle Alex blaze

Firefighters from seven departments are battling a fire at SunOpta in Alexandria this morning.

Firefighters from seven departments are battling a fire at SunOpta in Alexandria this morning.

The fire is now under control but clouds of smoke continue to pour out of the heavily damaged structure.

No injuries have been reported and there is no safety risk to the public, according to authorities.

A news release issued by the Alexandria Police Department said that the damage to the SunOpta commercial building is "in excess of millions."

Also, according to the new information from the police: The initial fire call came in at 1 a.m. The fire was located in the back of the building in the warehouse area.

Five departments responded - Alexandria, Carlos, Forada, Garfield and Osakis.

Shortly before 10 a.m., two other departments, Brandon and Miltona, were called in to provide more hoses, a pumper and extra manpower.

As of 10 a.m., fire crews reported that the blaze is 70 percent contained.

Roads leading to the business, which is located along 3rd Avenue West, west of the Douglas County's new jail, have been closed.

Chemical response teams from as far away as St. Paul and Morris were called in to assess if there were any chemical dangers. An official on the scene told the newspaper that no dangerous chemicals were released during the fire and the potentially hazardous materials have been moved away from the fire zone.

SunOpta, which was honored with Alexandria's Business and Industrial Appreciation Award in 2006, is the largest producer of shelf-stable soy-based beverages in the United States. SunOpta has two divisions in Alexandria - one in the industrial park and the other on 3rd Avenue. The facility along 3rd Avenue, established in 1987, has 70 employees, according to the Alexandria Economic Development Commission.

Adding to the challenge of fighting the blaze are extremely cold temperatures. Temperatures plummeted to nearly 30-degrees below zero this morning. The Douglas County area is under a windchill advisory.