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Western Sugar fire not likley to slow beet campaign

Western Sugar fire not likley to slow beet campaign

Gazette Staff

A fire last Tuesday at the Western Sugar complex in Billings has not slowed down the beet campaign this year, a factory official said Monday.

Factory manager Ken Bennett said the fire was located in an agriculture maintenance shop.

"We had some lighting that was old fluorescent lighting and the ballast was too close to roof," he said. "The building is 25 to 30 years old. That's what likely caused the fire."

He said the initial estimate of $500,000 in damage is high.

"It's probably closer to half of that," he said.

Most of what was lost was spare parts and air and oil filters for loaders, "so we just moved into another building," he said.

The campaign is three-quarters done "and we'd be almost completely done if it wasn't for the rain," Bennett said. "The fire hasn't affected the harvest at all. We haven't slowed down the factory."

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