Sartell paper mill gets $350K bill from fire departments

9:45 AM, Aug 2, 2012   |    comments
Photo courtesy Kimm Anderson/St. Cloud Times
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SARTELL - Responding agencies to the Verso Paper mill fire are sending a $350,000 bill to the company for reimbursement.

The bill includes costs associated with the response, including equipment and time. Of the 93 fire departments who responded to the Memorial Day fire, 59 have sent invoices to Sartell seeking reimbursement. Fire fighters from various departments were on scene for more than a week.

Sartell Finance Director Mary Degiovanni said she doesn't know if those remaining cities will send bills. Some cities might have sent just one responder and might not have incurred much cost.

The Memorial Day explosion and fire at the paper mill killed one Verso worker, Jon Maus, and injured four others. The mill has not operated since. Most of the mill's 250-plus workers have since been laid off.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Employees, the city and community are still waiting for news on whether the mill will reopen.

The city released today a list of each department and how much they billed for their response. The bill will be sent to Verso, who will submit it to its insurance company for reimbursement.

Cities within the Central Minnesota mutual aid agreement credited the first eight hours of response time. The agreement states that those first hours are free.

Mutual aid partners show a $61,000 credit for work they did during the first eight hours of response. Sartell did not charge for the first day of response, Degiovanni said.

She said some cities already deducted that amount from their invoice before sending it to Sartell. So there are thousands of additional dollars that have been credited above the $61,000, she said.

Sartell Fire Department estimates its costs for response was $103,000. It charged more than $88,000 for its response.

Sartell also charged for a variety of other services, such as water costs and the use of barricades. It did not charge for other city staff time in public works, the police department and administration.

The city of St. Cloud charged $43,000 for its response. Sauk Rapids charged $6,407, St. Joseph charged $9,000 and Waite Park charged $11,000.

(Copyright 2012 Gannett Co. Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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