by Dennis Dalman
Verso paper mill officials have identified the victim of an explosion at its Sartell plant – Jon Michael Maus, 50, of Albany. He is the father of four children.
Four others were injured in the explosion, but their injuries were apparently minor as they have all been treated and released at the St. Cloud Hospital.
At 11:18 a.m. Monday, a paper-storage warehouse at the plant had exploded, blowing out the east wall and flinging chunks and bits of debris as far as three blocks from the blast. The warehouse, which stores giant rolls of quality paper, is located right next to the railroad tracks that run north-south past the paper mill. Officials are speculating the explosion might have been caused by an air compressor.
The sound of the explosion rocked the City of Sartell. Residents in Sartell looked up to see an inky-black plume of smoke rising into the sky on a bright-blue, breezy Memorial Day morning. The smoke could be seen for miles.
Fourteen area fire departments rushed to the scene to help battle the blaze. Nearby residents were told to stay inside their houses, just in case any smoke fumes might be toxic. At this point, there appears to have been no chemical toxins released.
At the time of the incident, 50 employees were working in the plant.
For more details about the explosion and its aftermath, see this Friday’s Sartell Newsleader.