UPDATE: Residents return home after Hornick, IA co-op fire - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Residents return home after Hornick, IA co-op fire


The voluntary evacuation order was lifted in Hornick, Iowa, Tuesday evening for the most part. Emergency officials say residents downwind of the still smoldering smoke should stay out of their homes until it's finished

About 3 p.m. Tuesday, Stacy Payne was working in her yard in Hornick.

"It was so hot I could feel it from my house. It was so bad," said Payne. "I kept smelling a weird smell. I thought, 'Who's burning on a day like this.' I found out."

It was Western Iowa Co-op's fertilizer storage buildings, right next door. A "fertilizer loader" there had started on fire and was growing out of control. That's when Payne called 911.

"Kind of sat there and waited for the fire department to come. It just went up in flames so fast," said Payne.

With those flames, came black plumes of smoke. They quickly enveloped Payne's house, then the rest of Hornick. It was thought the cloud could be hazardous. So emergency crews went door-to-door, asking folks to leave.

"Not a mandatory evacuation. We're suggesting people just get themselves out of harms way until this smoke stops," said Woodbury County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Greg Logan.

Crews worked into the night, letting the fire burn itself out. They then moved in with foam, to smother the smoke. The building is gone, but fertilizer remains. Officials at the co-op say they don't believe the fire was ever a toxic concern. 

Folks like Payne waited and watched, wanting to get back home.

"It makes you think about what you have and what you can lose real fast," said Payne.

The Co-Op's site manager calls the storage building a total loss.  He says they'll try to salvage the remaining fertilizer.

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