The cause of a fire at the Pratt Energy ethanol plant on Dec. 15 is under investigation.

Pratt Energy staff are investigating the cause of a fire at the Pratt Energy ethanol plant Saturday that damaged a piece of dryer equipment at the facility.

“On Saturday Afternoon, Dec. 15, Pratt Energy experienced a fire in a component of our ring dryer system. There were no injuries,” according to a press release furnished by Jennifer Slater, plant public information officer. “Dryer fires are not uncommon within the ethanol industry. The safety mechanisms operated appropriately to minimize the damage. The fire department was called to assist to extinguish the fire. We appreciate their quick response and assistance from the Pratt County Sheriff ’s Department.

“The plant is still operating as normal as we evaluate the damage and are optimistic that the necessary repairs can be completed quickly.”

The exact cause of the fire is unknown but an analysis of the event is underway. The piece of equipment is used to dry grain, called distillers grain, that is a by product of ethanol production. Distillers grain is used as a cattle feed, Slater said

The one unit was the only one damaged. It did not damage any other area of the plant.

“We think our damage was, overall, pretty minimal,” Slater said.

When the fire occurred, the plant employees assessed the damage to determine if they could handle the situation themselves. It was decided to call for assistance with the fire.

The fire was reported around 4:30 p.m. and four units from Township 12 responded to the call including the aerial ladder truck. An additional two units from Iuka were requested for man power, said TWP Fire Chief Mark McManaman.

When the event started, there was an explosion that blew out the ends of the vessel involved, McManaman said.

Only the pumper units from both departments were used at the fire. Be-ause of the cramped space, both units had to lay water lines from the trucks to the fire.

“It (fire) was hard to get to. We used alley ways and laid hoses to get to the fire,” McManaman said.

The fire fighters contained the fire to the one unit and prevented it from spreading to other equipment at the facility. A combination of foam and water was used to fight the fire. McManaman said they filled the vessel involved with water and foam to put the fire out.

The fire was declared under control around 6 p.m. No firefighters were injured in this incident.

Repairs to the facility will be made in-house. Only the production of dry distillers grain was stopped because of the fire. The rest of the facility continues to produce ethanol, Slater said.

“The plant is operating as normal,” Slater said.