Investigators determine Northern Metals Recycling fire was accidental


The Northern Metals fire in Becker, Minn. rages two days after it started. ( Derek Baas )

After weeks of investigating, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office has finally concluded its investigation into the fire at Northern Metal Recycling in Becker, Minnesota. Officials declared the cause of the fire an accident ignited by a spark or heated metals coming on contact with combustible materials.

On Feb. 18, a fire started outside of Northern Metals off Energy Drive Southeast in Becker, resulting in a massive plume of smoke that spread for days and prompted concerns over air quality.

Investigators wrote that based on a systematic examination of the fire scene, burn pattern analysis, fire artifacts found, witness statements, and
other data, it is determined that the area of origin of the fire was approximately 20-30 yards into the piled metals.

Responders noted that the area did not have any indications that anyone had attempted to climb the metal pile.

Officials said there is also dash and body-worn cameras that show the fire burning far into the metal debris, with no contact to the outside edges, leading authorities to believe the fire was not started intentionally.

Investigators believe the heat source may have been a discarded battery or water reactive metal. They believe that a spark or heated materials came into contact with combustible materials in or around the high piled vehicles.

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