St. Charles Residents in Limbo After Fire
Residents of St. Charles, Minn., are facing an uncertain future after a fire destroyed the town's cornerstone business, a large-scale meat processing plant.
The fire broke out Friday afternoon at North Star Foods, a plant that handled beef, pork, and poultry and employed 150 of the town's little over 3,000 residents.
The town was evacuated overnight because the flames were nearing anhydrous ammonia tanks, which would have posed a significant danger to residents if ruptured.
The fire was extinguished by 6 a.m. with the help of 70 firefighters from St. Charles and neighboring towns. According to the Star Tribune, the plant was considered a total loss.
Now residents are questioning whether they can remain in the town after one of its largest businesses and utility customers has been destroyed. The plant's owners told the Star Tribune that it could take up to two years and $75 million to rebuild.
State fire marshals have not yet determined the cause of the fire.
For now, residents can only wait to see what the future holds for the town.
"Most of the workers are waiting to see what happens," Rogelio Molina, a father of two and five-year employee of the plant, told the Star Tribune. Molina is reluctant to leave St. Charles with his family.
"This town is good for my sons," he said.