Public Safety

Fire extinguished at Cedar Rapids paper mill

Engine 1 pulls out of the Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. (Gazette file photo)
Engine 1 pulls out of the Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, in Cedar Rapids. (Gazette file photo)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A fire at a cardboard manufacturing plant smoldered for hours Sunday afternoon as firefighters from Cedar Rapids and surrounding towns worked to clear the scene.

The Cedar Rapids Fire Department said crews responded around 12:30 p.m. to a report of smoke inside a paper milling station at International Paper, 4600 C St. SW.

When firefighters arrived, they worked with plant personnel and found the source of the fire among machinery inside the building, officials said.

As the firefighters worked to establish a water supply and set up the aerial truck, they requested mutual aid from fire departments in Ely and Swisher.

According to a Cedar Rapids Fire Department news release, firefighters were able to quickly control the “main body” of the blaze. But crews remained on the scene for about three hours to deal with smoldering paper products that had to be removed from the building.

No injuries were reported, but Area Ambulance Service and the Salvation Army provided support to the firefighters as they worked.

International Paper, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of corrugated packaging, remains open and is operating as normal, officials said.

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A fire at the same facility in July 2017 prompted an even bigger response from Cedar Rapids firefighters, who remained on the scene for more than 48 hours.

That fire started July 8, 2017, when a bale of recycled cardboard caught fire inside the warehouse.

Once inside the warehouse, firefighters learned the fire had spread to other bales throughout the building, Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow told The Gazette at the time. Crews then had to remove and extinguish the bales of cardboard.

Ely, Fairfax, Hiawatha, Marion, Mount Vernon and Swisher fire departments were called in to help on that blaze.

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