Fire in Iron Range's Soudan mine nearly out

Soudan Underground Mine State Park
The Soudan Underground Mine State Park near Tower, Minn. in a file photo. Timbers in the mine's elevator shaft caught fire Thursday night, but the fire is nearly out, firefighters said Sunday.
MPR File Photo/Marc Sanchez

Firefighters in northern Minnesota say a fire that started Thursday in an old iron ore mine is nearly out.

Carson Berglund with the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center says heat and carbon monoxide levels are continuing to drop at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

Timbers in the mine's elevator shaft caught fire Thursday night. Fire crews closed off the top of the mine shaft to starve the fire of oxygen. They also pumped in foam.

Berglund said a crew sent down cameras and found promising signs.

"There's very little smoke, if any down in the shaft," Berglund said. "And the temperature is back to a normal status."

Berglund said the cameras showed minimal damage. Once they determine it to be safe, firefighters will go down into the shaft for a closer inspection.

The Soudan mine closed in 1962. Today it's an Iron Range tourist site and home to a University of Minnesota physics lab.

"Their overall goal is to have the park re-established so they have underground visitor opportunities again as well as the laboratory capabilities down there are back and functioning," Berglund said.

But he said because of all the foam firefighters used, it'll be hard to pinpoint exactly where the fire started.

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