Area departments respond to fire at CHS Ethanol in Steward

Area departments responded to a structure fire Friday in Steward.

No injuries reported Friday

Area departments responded to a structure fire Friday in Steward. 

No injuries were reported at CHS Ethanol at 1,900 Steward Road, Rochelle Fire Department Lt. Zach Prewett said. There were no occupants and the fire was confined to a milling building at the facility. 

“There was no visible fire upon arrival,” Prewett said. “There was dense smoke coming out of a stack. We opened a hopper and found fire and extinguished it. We entered the building and did further cooling. It’s part of their processing where corn is ground down and moved across the facility. The fire was in a hammermill and dust collector.”

Prewett believes the cause of the fire, which was called in at 10:55 a.m., was mechanical. He could not speak to the amount of damage done but said the plant would experience longer delays. CHS Ethanol was in a scheduled shutdown when the fire occurred.

Responding departments along with Rochelle Fire included Hillcrest, Steward, Creston, Flagg Center and Lynn Scott Rock mutual aid ambulance. 

“We weren’t sure what part of the facility was on fire,” Prewett said. We’ve been called for dryer fires out there but never for this. Initially we called in mutual aid because we were unsure. It could’ve involved ethanol or something more volatile. We didn’t have to elevate it any further. Any time it’s something industrial we’re careful.”

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