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Investigators determined a mechanical failure caused a fire and explosion last Monday at an ethanol plant in Fergus Falls, MN.

A hydraulic pump that controls the damper in the dryer building of the Green Plains Renewable Energy plant failed Monday afternoon, said Fergus Falls Fire Chief Mark Hovland.

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It caused higher than normal temperatures in an attached chamber that destroys hazardous emissions. A fire started in the chamber and smoke from the fire ended up drawn into the dryer building causing a smoke explosion.

The explosion tore apart the building, Hovland said. No one suffered an injury in the fire or subsequent explosion.

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Green Plains officials are still assessing the damages, which plant manager Anthony Hicks said are “significant,” but he could not give a dollar amount.

The plant, which produces corn-based ethanol, corn oil and distiller’s grains, has been in operation since 2008.

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