Cottage Grove firefighters responded to a call 4:30 a.m. Feb. 22 to help contain the massive scrap fire at Northern Metals Recycling Center in Becker, Minn. The crew made the 70-mile trip and arrived at 6 a.m., where the fire was burning for its third straight day and a volcanic plume of smoke continued to climb and drift.

The Cottage Grove crew served as a defensive suppression team. They later deployed their Engine 3 as an unmanned monitor, Fire Chief Rick Redenius said. The pumper truck laid down a steady stream of water to stop the fire from spreading beyond the fire break to other structures.

The crew was later tasked with draining and rolling up about 1,000 feet of hose, which was placed on pallets and moved into garages on site to thaw out. After decontamination, they helped locate another water source for filling water tenders.

"Command sent us home along with other departments at around 12:15 p.m.," Redenius said in an email, which included firefighter photos of the blaze.

They were among an estimated 75 fire agencies who assisted at the fire.

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The fire was extinguished Feb. 22, according to the Becker Police Department. Investigators are working to determine the cause. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency continues to monitor for such pollutants as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, but air quality is at an acceptable level, according to the website www.purpleair.com, which provides real-time readings.