Whitmer declares state of emergency over Menominee paper mill fire

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer said a emergency state for Menominee County to continue the response to a fire that broke out Thursday night at a paper mill and continues to burn a week later.

The fire at Resolute Forest Products erupted around 11 p.m. CDT on October 6, spreading rapidly to a nearby warehouse that contained pulp and toilet paper. From Wednesday morning, the fire is considered under control but is still burning. No injuries were reported from the blaze, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on the scene and working with officials in Michigan and Wisconsin to monitor chemical exposures.

“I want to thank the first responders in Michigan and Wisconsin who joined forces to fight this fire day and night to prevent it from spreading further and causing more damage,” Governor Whitmer said in a statement. . “Through this declaration of emergency, we are dedicating all available resources to fire suppression efforts, environmental protection and financial assistance for the local response. We will be here to help you until until the emergency response is over.

WGBATV, the NBC affiliate in Green Bay, reports that crews from more than 30 fire departments from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin came to help. Volunteers set up a system to provide meals and other items to first responders working around the clock on the fire.

Menominee City Manager Brett Botbyl said the emergency declaration will not only help fight the fire, but will help the town survive the financial hit caused by the blaze.

“The Governor’s statement will be extremely helpful because without this assistance, the Town of Menominee would not be able to bear the financial burden of this catastrophic event,” Botbyl said. “It will also allow us to continue to secure resources to keep staff safe and protect our city.”

Several shelter-in-place orders were issued due to smoke from the fire. For now, EPA officials, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, are monitoring surface water and air. nearby to detect intoxicants.

The latest update published by the EPA Wednesday afternoon said tests showed higher amounts of particles in the air and encouraged people to avoid smoky areas. Departments will be on site for weeks to continue monitoring and to assist with the cleanup process.

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