Cause of Fire at Atchison alcohol plant under investigation

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ATCHISON, Kan. — Authorities say no one was hurt in an explosion and fire at a northeast Kansas distilling plant that was fined earlier this year over a noxious cloud of fumes that sent dozens to the hospital in 2016.

Atchison Police Chief Mike Wilson said the blast happened around 8:15 p.m. Friday at MGP Ingredients Inc., which is a supplier of distilled spirits and specialty wheat proteins and starches. The cause has not been determined.

Earlier this year, the company was fined $1 million for violating the federal Clean Air Act. Four years ago, a chlorine gas cloud formed at the company’s Atchison plant when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite.

Residents evacuated the city 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Kansas City, or sheltered in place for hours. About 140 people sought medical attention.

MGPI Processing Inc., the parent company of Midwest Grain Products, didn’t immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press.

The plant has had other incidents, including a small explosion in another building in February 2016 in which no injuries were reported. The plant was also the site of a 2002 explosion and fire that damaged the plant’s distillery and injured a few people.

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