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Spontaneous combustion likely cause of N.D. elevator blaze

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DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- Spontaneous combustion is the likely cause of a fire this week that destroyed a Dakota Dry Bean elevator in Devils Lake.

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However, the official cause of the Sunday night blaze is listed as undetermined, said Devils Lake Fire Chief Jim Moe.

“We ruled out arson. That leaves only three things, based on where the fire was found,” he said, explaining the source of the fire was in the upper section of the 90-foot-tall building.

The three are: dust on lights that could have overheated, an overheated bearing or spontaneous combustion. The first two are unlikely, he said. However, employees had reported some moisture and heating issues that could have contributed to spontaneous combustion.

About 65 firefighters battled the blaze in temperatures that at one point reached 24 degrees below, with 23 mph winds.

Meanwhile, equipment began arriving Thursday to start demolishing the outer structure of the building, located along the west side of the city. Damage has been estimated at $1 million.

The elevator will be rebuilt about five miles east of the city, near the site of Dakota Dry Bean’s processing facility along U.S. Highway 2, company President and CEO David Polries said.

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