Contaminated water spilled from the scene of an early morning fire at Mid-West Fertilizer in Iola, Kansas, Wednesday, forcing the city of Humboldt to suspend operations at the water plant.
Humboldt city officials shut down the plant at noon Thursday because of possible contamination in the Neosho River.
The Iola Fire Department responded to a blaze at Mid-West Fertilizer early Wednesday morning. The department got the call at 2:30 a.m. notifying them of a fire at 506 W. Lincoln. It took firefighters two hours to get the fire under control.
Firefighters worked with Iola farmer Doug Strickler to contain the water runoff incurred while they battled the blaze, but it was not enough to keep the water from reaching the river.
The water likely reached the river south of Iola’s intake location, meaning water service is unaffected for customers in Iola and Gas.
Mid-West Fertilizer released a statement:
“Our Iola, KS location caught fire early on January 1, 2020. While the office building took most of the hit, our fertilizer building remained untouched. We have many people to thank for their tremendous efforts in helping with this disaster. First and foremost, all the emergency responders who were on scene so quickly: Iola Fire Department, Allen County Rural Volunteers and LaHarpe Volunteer Fire Departments, City of Iola, Iola Police Department, and Allen County Sheriff’s Office. Thank you to Sean Turner, Doug Strickler, and the MWF employees who were there to help as well. And a special thanks to our landlord at the Iola location, Jack McFadden, for his assistance throughout this process. We apologize if we have left anybody off, just know we greatly appreciate all your efforts.
“As the fertilizer building did not receive any damage, we are still open for business! We are currently making the appropriate accommodations for our Iola employees to operate at the facility.”
With the shutdown, the city issued a water conservation notice, noting the city’s water supply is contained to what is stored in its water towers.
Residents were asked to limit water consumption, and avoid such things as doing laundry, washing dishes, washing cars or watering houseplants until the water supply can be restored.
The shutdown affected the City of Humboldt as well as Rural Water Districts No. 9 and 10.
There were no injuries reported in the incident.