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Officials investigating after fire, explosion at Muskogee paper plant

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Officials are investigating the cause of a fire at a paper plant in Muskogee.

Around 9:40 p.m. Monday, Muskogee fire officials say a propane-powered forklift caught fire and then exploded at the Georgia-Pacific plant.

Two buildings were impacted, one used for operations and the other for storage. Fire crews say one of the buildings collapsed.

The plant is the largest private employer in Muskogee.

“I’m hoping it’s not a total loss,” said Sandy Thach, who lives in Muskogee. “I mean, that would be devastating for Muskogee. It really would.”

The plant has 800 employees total, and 65 of them were near the areas involved in the fire and explosion. All employees were accounted for.

Officials say one person was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Four people were treated on scene, as well as one firefighter.

FOX 23 reports smoke filled the air around the plant Tuesday morning and crews were still on scene.

Georgia-Pacific, a paper company based in Georgia that owns two facilities in Oklahoma, says they will continue to investigate the incident Tuesday as the plant continues to stay shut down.

“We’ve had a significant fire at the Muskogee mill in our paper warehousing and converting area. Both the mill emergency team and local fire departments and first responders are on the scene working to manage and extinguish the fire. All employees and contractors were evacuated safely from the area and are accounted for. We don’t yet know the extent of the damage or the cause of the fire. Our first priority is to ensure that all employees are safe and that the fire teams are able to do their job in dealing with the fire. We do appreciate all the support that we are getting from our local first responders.” – Tom Strother, Georgia-Pacific

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