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St. Charles evacuates due to fire

After the 3,600 residents of St. Charles, Minn., were evacuated because of a fire at a local meat-processing plant on Friday, they were allowed to return beginning Saturday morning, the Pioneer Press reported via The Associated Press.

At North Star Foods on Friday morning, a fire started over an oven, according to plant manager Mark Eads, the Star Tribune reported. Over 100 people were in the building, but they were quickly evacuated.

Concern developed that the fire would reach two tanks at the plant containing 30,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, potentially causing an explosion and the release of toxic chemicals into the air, the Star Tribune reported.

By early afternoon, residents were being told to evacuate the town, the Star Tribune reported.

The state fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire, the Pioneer Press reported.

On Saturday, it was found that about 75 percent of the plant was "substantially damaged," the Pioneer Press reported.

North Star Foods, which has operated since 1971, is the second largest employer in St. Charles, with around 150 workers, the Pioneer Press reported.