By 10 p.m. Monday, most of the firefighters had left the scene. Firefighters returned this morning to finish cleanup and to investigate.

The Monroe Fire Department was dispatched to the plant at about 2:15 p.m. Monday for a fire in the grain handling area. Monroe Fire Chief Daryl Rausch said crews quickly controlled the fire in a germ dryer and bagging processor. But the fire extended into the grain handling ductwork and spread to other pieces of equipment.

It was then that the Monroe Police Department and the Brodhead, Juda and Browntown fire departments were called to assist. They later were joined by trucks and crews from Monticello, Cedarville, Orangeville and Freeport City fire departments and Green County EMS. County emergency management lighting units and equipment from the Monroe Department of Public Works also were provided.

The fire was under control by 6 p.m., Rausch said.

Crews had to contend with cold that turned water into slush on the ground and ice on the pipes. Rausch called the conditions "extreme" and the fire "stubborn." He said the fire caused significant damage to the plant.

For almost two hours, firefighters climbed on the processor, being careful of ice-covered pipes while opening frozen hatch doors to peer into the processing unit. At least one hatch opened at about 8:15 p.m. revealed grain embers still glowing.

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