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Flames engulf wood products business, Superior fire boat called out

Firefighters were controlling a massive fire at a wood products business off 14th Avenue West and Railroad Street this morning. No injuries were reported, but millions of dollars of equipment and buildings at True North Cedar were engulfed in flames.

Firefighters were controlling a massive fire at a wood products business off 14th Avenue West and Railroad Street this morning.

No injuries were reported, but millions of dollars of equipment and buildings at True North Cedar were engulfed in flames. The fire reportedly broke out just after 8 a.m. At one point, propane explosions were heard.

The Superior Fire Department fire boat was called to the scene known as the old Northern Pacific dock. Firefighters initially pulled back from the scene, but were attacking the fire at about 9 a.m.

Fire Chief John Strongitharm has called in off-duty firefighters and asked the Superior Fire Department for assistance through its fireboat, according to a news release.

Firefighters are worried that the fire may spread to adjacent buildings. As of 9:15 a.m. this morning the fire was not under control.

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The wind was blowing out of the east-northeast at 8-10 mph, pushing the thick, acrid smoke west over the Lincoln Park-West End neighborhood and all the way to Proctor.

True North Cedar owner Hobart Finn said he didn't think any employees were in harm's way. The business employs 11, who produce a variety of wood products.

Finn said firefighters hesitated for nearly an hour.

"I was just about to put on a second shift, now this fire department has cost me everything," an angry Finn said. He said it was originally a small fire.

According to the company Web site, the company "manufactures and supplies high-quality white cedar products to customers worldwide, and is the largest producer of white cedar shingles in the United States."

Co-owner Max Taubert also owns Duluth Timber Company, according to the True North Web site.

No one from the Duluth Fire Department could be immediately reached.

The flames were visible from downtown, as thick, black smoked poured onto West Duluth.

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