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Menominee fire still smoldering four days later

Officials are monitoring air quality in the area
Menominee fire on Monday
Posted at 9:11 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-10 22:11:07-04

MENOMINEE, Mich — A fire at a paper mill in Menominee, Michigan is still burning four days after it began late Thursday night.

City officials said the fire is contained, but may continue to smolder for a few more days.

Heavy smoke prompted Marinette County and the City of Menominee to issue precautionary shelter-in-place orders over the weekend for residents near the warehouse.

Those orders have since been lifted, but some residents are still concerned about the air quality.

Hilary Kutha lives near the warehouse and said she's worried about her children and pets possibly breathing in smoke.

"Even just smelling it now, you can see the haze in the air," Kutha said. "It's, I don't really feel like it's good for any of us to be breathing in."

But other residents, like Adam Coggins who also lives near the warehouse, said they weren't bothered by the smoke.

"I saw trucks going around measuring the air quality, so I figured if there was some really bad you'd probably let us know," Coggins said.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in a press release that no chemicals above health screening levels have been detected, and they will continue to monitor air quality in the area.

The EPA said it is also sampling and testing water that may have traveled from the site of the fire to the Menominee wastewater treatment plant and Menominee River. The EPA said it is coordinating with state and local agencies to confirm that there will be no impacts on drinking water.

State and federal environmental agencies said they are also trying to confirm what chemicals were present in the warehouse at the time of the fire, according to a press release from the EPA.

Seth Kursman with Resolute Forest Products, which rents space in the warehouse, says that employees will continue to be paid until further notice, but says the company needs to assess the damage before addressing the future of the facility.

Resolute Forest Products employs 100 people. Some residents are concerned about their job security in the aftermath of the fire.

"I think it might hurt the economy a little bit because of the job loss, if people do lose their jobs," Menominee resident Paula Cook said.

Resolute Forest Products did not comment on whether any employees would lose their jobs as a result of the fire.