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News and other information from Cook County

Silver Bay man remains hospitalized after Tac Harbor explosion

Tue, 10/23/2012 - 4:13pm

A 41-year-old Silver Bay man remains hospitalized at Miller Dwan Medical Center in Duluth after being injured in an explosion Monday morning at Minnesota Power’s Taconite Harbor power plant.

As of Monday night, one of the two generation units continued to generate electricity. Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge said the accident is not expected to affect customers. That plant had been evacuated temporarily during the fire. There was no damage estimate available.

According to company officials, 11-year-employee Joe Fredrickson was in critical condition Monday night, but he was described as conscious and communicative. The injured fuels technician was taken by ambulance to Cook County North Shore Hospital by ambulance and then transferred to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center before moving to Miler Dwan.

Rutledge said the coal bunker was being filled with coal when the explosion occurred. The bunker is where coal is stored before it is burned in steam generators to generate electricity.

She said the utility is investigating the cause of the blast.

Frederickson was the only person in the coal bunker room when the explosion occurred shortly after 9 AM. Schroeder Fire Chief Phil Bonin said there appeared to be a coal-dust explosion that caused several spot fires in the plant. Bonin said the cause of the blast wasn’t clear.

Tofte Fire Department personnel reported the initial  fire was under control about 30 minutes after it started.

The Lutsen Fire Department was called out at 1:30 on Monday afternoon to join two other Cook County fire departments in fighting flames that rekindled at the plant shortly after noon. The Lutsen department was also asked to bring thermal imaging equipment to the scene.

Fire departments from Schroeder and Tofte, and, the Cook County Ambulance had been called back to the plant about 12:35 PM. The fire departments and ambulance were summoned after flames rekindled on the roof of the power plant in the wake of a morning explosion and fire..
Ambulances and fire departments from the West End were dispatched to the scene after the initial explosion and the Minnesota State Patrol was called in for traffic control.

The Duluth News Tribune says a similar explosion and fire occurred at the plant in August, 2002.

Vikings, Mariners start football, volleyball playoffs

Tue, 10/23/2012 - 8:58am

Section 7-A football playoff action starts at 6 o’clock tonight for the Cook County Vikings at Lyle Anderson Field in Grand Marais.

The number two-seeded football team will open the playoff quarterfinals against seventh seed Cass Lake-Bena. 

The winner of the Cook County Cass Lake-Bena game will play at 2 p.m., Saturday, October 27 against the winner of the Blackduck-Mesabi East quarterfinal.

The Viking volleyball team drew a first-round bye and will start their Sub-Section 7-A playoffs on at 6 o’clock Wednesday night against Cromwell on Cook County’s home court.

The Cardinals stopped the Lakeview Christian Academy Lions 3 to 0 Monday night in the first round. Cromwell advanced on scores of 25 to 11, 25 to 21 and 21 to 5.  The win put the Cardinals at 11 and 6 for the season while the Vikings are 15 and 6.

Silver Bay won its first round match-up in the volleyball playoffs Monday night. The Mariners defeated Wrenshall 3 to 0 on scores of 24-18, 25-21 and 25-16.

Silver Bay moves on to play South Ridge at Culver Wednesday night. The Panthers took a first-round bye and come into the match at 17 and 14 while the Mariners are now 10 and 10.

The Mariner football team opens the Section 5 nine-man competition tonight. The 2 and 6 Mariners will face Cromwell which is 4 and 4 for the year. The winner of that game plays Saturday at 2 p.m. against the winner of tonight’s Floodwood-Carlton match-up.


Name of injured Taconite Harbor worker released

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 5:34pm

The name of the long-time Minnesota Power (MP) Taconite Harbor Energy worker who was injured when there was an explosion in a coal bunker at the plant has been announced. Joe Frederickson, 41, of Silver Bay, a fuels technician, was in the bunker room at approximately 9 a.m. when the explosion occurred.
Frederickson was taken by ambulance to the Cook County North Shore Hospital in Grand Marais and later transferred to a Duluth hospital. He is currently being treated at Essentia Health in Duluth.
Schroeder and Tofte Fire Departments responded to the page at approximately 9 a.m. and extinguished the fire. They were called back about at about 12:45 with the Lutsen Fire Department also responding. All fire departments are now clear from the scene.
Minnesota Power said it is investigating the cause of the fire.  After the Schroeder Fire Department was called to a  fire in a coal bunker in May 2011, Taconite Harbor Managing Superintendent David Rannetsberger told the Cook County News-Herald that spontaneous fires are not uncommon when coal is stagnant. 

Preliminary numbers show 45 moose shot in northeastern Minnesota moose season

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 2:03pm

VIRGINIA (AP)  — Preliminary figures show hunters registered 45 bull moose during Northeastern Minnesota's 2012 moose season.

The Department of Natural Resources issued 87 permits for the bulls-only season, down from 96 in 2011. Wildlife managers say 52 percent of parties were successful, compared with 58 percent last year when state-licensed hunters took 53 moose. The sport season ran Sept. 29-Oct. 14, while a separate tribal season runs through Dec. 31.

This year's harvest was five below the 50 the DNR projected last spring when it decided to proceed despite a sharp decline in the state's moose population. It was estimated last winter at 4,230, down 14 percent from 2011 and less than half the 2006 estimate. Wildlife managers say the main reasons likely include parasites, diseases and warmer weather, rather than hunting.


Firefighters fight coal bunker fire at Taconite Harbor Energy Center

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:55pm

As Schroeder and Tofte Fire Departments work to completely extinguish a fire at the Minnesota Power (MP) Taconite Harbor Energy Center, the community waits for details. MP Communications Manager Amy Rutledge said there is not a great deal of information available at this time. Rutledge confirmed what area resident have already heard—emergency responders were called to the Taconite Harbor facility in Schroeder at approximately 9 a.m. this morning following a fuel system explosion.
Rutledge said a long-time employee, a 41-year-old fuels technician, was in the coal bunker room at the time and was injured. The man was taken by ambulance to the Cook County North Shore Hospital in Grand Marais and later transferred to a Duluth hospital. Rutledge said the extent of the employee’s injuries is not known at this time, but the employee was "conscious and communicative."
Rutledge said MP could not release the employee’s name at this time and added, “Our thoughts and concern are with that employee right now. Our attention is directed at making sure he gets the appropriate medical attention.”
Rutledge said s the fire is confined to the plant’s coal-storage bunkers.  As a precaution, the power plant was evacuated.

The fire was believed to be out, however the Schroeder and Tofte Fire Departments were paged back at about 12:45 p.m. At 1:39 p.m., assistance was requested from the Lutsen Fire Department, which has a thermal-imaging camera to detect hotspots.

CCLEP and Higher Ed offer energy workshop for contractors

Mon, 10/22/2012 - 1:17pm
Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) and Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) will host a Residential Energy Workshop for area contractors, builders and anyone interested in residential energy issues. 

The workshop will take place Saturday, October 27th at the Higher Ed North Shore Campus in Grand Marais. Sign-in and registration is from 7:30 – 8:00 with the workshop from 8:00 – 4:30.  Lunch will be served.  To register, call Higher Ed at 387-3411.

(Click on WTIP link below to hear an interview about the workshop with CCLEP coordinator Virginia Danfelt.)