Explosion at Shakopee plant shakes buildings blocks away, forces evacuations [PHOTOS] [UPDATE]

The scene outside Rahr Malting early this afternoon.
The scene outside Rahr Malting early this afternoon.

-- Updates at bottom --

Early this afternoon, a major explosion rocked a plant owned by Rahr Malting along the Minnesota River in Shakopee.

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No injuries have been reported yet, but witnesses say the force of the blast could be felt blocks away. There are reports that people in the area had to be evacuated.

According to Rahr Malting's website, the "facility annually produces 370,000 MT (24 million bushels) of malt, making it the largest single site malt producer in the world. The campus consists of five individual malthouses, four Saladin units and one tower. The original malthouse was constructed in 1937 with new houses added in 1954, 1977, 1981 and 1994."

After the explosion, "several fire departments" were summoned to help battle a resulting fire. Smoke could be seen billowing from the plant.

Here's a photo just posted to Twitter by KARE 11's Lindsey Seavert:

:::: UPDATE ::::

From the Star Tribune:

The city on its website said that everyone within a 1-mile radius of the explosion should stay indoors until further notice, but also added that "there is no immediate danger."

"There was a big explosion," said Bob Nagel, who runs Bob's Lawn and Landscaping, about a quarter-mile east of Rahr Malting.

"It shook our building really bad," Nagel added. "We can smell a lot of smoke. There's something burning over there."

Nagel told the Strib that before today, he could recall only one small explosion at Rahr in the 19 years he's worked nearby the plant.

:::: UPDATE II ::::

KARE 11 reports that "the explosion was in a tank at Koda Energy, a biomass fuel company co-owned by Rahr Malting and the Mdewakanton Sioux." That contradicts earlier reports that the explosion happened at the malt plant itself.

:::: UPDATE III ::::

The city of Shakopee has just given the all-clear:

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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