Explosion Rocks Kansas Distillery

The blaze created a thick cloud of smoke and strong odor.

An explosion and fire damaged a distilling plant in northeastern Kansas late last week, according to reports.

The explosion at MGP Ingredients in Atchison, Kansas, sent thick smoke into the sky and created a strong odor Friday evening. 

According to the company's website, MGP is a supplier of distilled spirits and food ingredients, including wheat starches and proteins. 

The company issued a statement Saturday acknowledging the incident and confirming that no one was injured. The company said it is assessing the damage and trying to determine the cause of the fire, which is still unknown at this time. 

According to the Associated Press, MGP was fined earlier this year over noxious fumes that sent dozens to the hospital in 2016. The company was hit with a $1 million fine for violating the federal Clean Air Act after a chlorine gas cloud formed when 4,000 gallons of sulfuric acid were mistakenly combined with 5,800 gallons of sodium hypochlorite.

Residents had to evacuate the city or shelter in place for hours. About 140 people sought medical attention.

The plant saw additional incidents in the past, including a small explosion in Feb. 2016, but no workers were harmed. Employees were, however, injured in a 2002 explosion and fire that damaged the plant's distillery.

Founded in 1941, MGP also produces industrial alcohol for use in food and non-food applications. The company is headquartered in Atchison, where it makes its distilled alcohol products and food ingredients. The company also has a facility in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, that distills and matures premium spirits.

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