The updates on the Menominee Resolute fire are informing us that the expected date of the fire being completely smothered is this Saturday, October 22nd. This afternoon to update the community around the blaze Fire Chief Mark Peterson of Menominee County and other officials report this danger is slowly reaching a resolution. “We always think that we’re this close to getting the fire out and so we’re working and working and working on it and um, we weren’t making any progress”.
Around 10:41 in the evening is when the Fire Department in Menominee was responding to the flames at Resolute Forest Products. Around 70 acres, the warehouse was burning through piles upon piles of paper fueling the blaze. Around 9 vacuum trucks and over 60 fire departments fought this blaze and to this day, luckily no one has been injured.
Water is being contained in the vacuum trucks and strategic containment ponds where it’s being tested. The water is still being pumped out and around 7 million gallons of fire water have been contained and await treatment. “We know that PFAS are regularly detected in lake Michigan and other great lakes, usually at low levels.”
Still, steel and metal scrap is being removed from the fire site daily.140,000 square feet of the warehouse actually still stands. On top of the air monitoring that was put in place immediately on the 7th, the water treatment has been a concern as well. “We established a daily sampling and analysis strategy for PFAS at the Menominee water treatment plant starting on Sunday, October 9th.”
PFAS chemicals are ‘polyfluoroalkyl’ man-made substances that are used in a number of global industries. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy say their focus is on the drinking water front. All these PFAS chemicals have a carbon-fluorine bond which helps with nonstick and fireproofing but is very persistent in the environment.
“It’s very important to note that despite those detections all of the treated water samples that we have seen have been below Michigan’s maximum contaminant levels. It’s a bit of a concern because that had never been detected before however, the MCL, the maximum contaminant level is 400,000 and we peaked at 18 so orders of magnitude below the MCL”, said Mark Bowl, Engineer for EGLE.
A review of the results says they are seeing a big impact from Resolute Forest Products but it is not above regulation. The cost to rebuild is also still under discussion with the insurance agency as well. The fire’s cause and origin are still under investigation.