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A production line at the Grand Forks, ND, Simplot plant caught fire after grease build up from a fryer ignited Saturday night.

As a result of the fire, smoke was visible for miles in Grand Forks.

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Crews got the call to go to the potato factory on Gateway Drive around 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Fire Marshal Brian Geatz said the grease buildup from a fryer caught fire and went through ductwork. The fire then spread to parts of the roof until firefighters were able to locate and extinguish it.

The production line is where they produce McDonald’s potato products, an employee said. The flames then spread to a second production line and to the roof.

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There were employees inside at the time and all were able to get out safety. The fire, which spread quickly, sent black smoke towering into the sky.

“It was a towering cloud of smoke. It was going hundreds of feet into the air, and it was increasing and so it looked a pretty hot fire was going on somewhere,” said Jon Gilmour, a local resident at the scene.

Crews were able to contain most of the fire within a half hour.

Simplot was going to shut down for maintenance in a week and a half.

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