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Victim In Sartell Paper Mill Fire Identified

SARTELL, Minn. (WCCO) – Authorities have identified the person killed in Monday's explosion and fire at a paper mill in central Minnesota.

Officials said that 50-year-old Jon Maus of Albany, Minn. was killed when the Verso Paper Mill in Sartell exploded and caught fire.

Family members said Maus was a father of four who just recently celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary. The victim's father said he worked for Verso 8 or 9 years prior to being laid off and had just last month been rehired in a temporary position.

The victim's father said a wall fell on Maus after the explosion.

Authorities said five other people were hurt. The explosion and fire happened just before noon on Monday.

Sartell is about 75 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, just outside St. Cloud. Firefighters were still on the scene Tuesday morning, working to put out the fire. Authorities said they could be out there for another day or two.

The fire chief said this is the biggest fire in the city's history. At last report, the fire was 90 percent contained.

About 50 workers were inside Sartell's Verso Paper Mill Monday when something exploded in the warehouse. Rolls of paper, weighing more than two tons each, fueled the fire.

It took 14 mutual aid fire departments, five police departments and water from the state patrol chopper to help get the fire mostly under control.

"We were about five miles away and I could hear the rumble like thunder and then I heard that the paper mill exploded," said Sartell resident Lonnie Landowski.

One woman near the scene said it felt like something hit her house and the windows and everything around her house was shaking.

"It's very sad, a very sad day for everybody in Sartell and all the residents as well and the employees," said Sartell resident Colleen Schultz.

No information has been released on the official cause of the explosion and fire.

The St. Cloud Times is reporting three of the five people hurt were treated and released, another is still in the hospital and the condition of the fifth person is not known.

A spokesman with the Department of Labor says the paper mill is one of the safer workplaces in Minnesota, and hasn't had any safety violations since registering with the state in 2001.

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