South St. Paul, MN stockyards fire, May 1948

South St. Paul Stockyards Fire Loss $600,000; 50 Cattle Perish

South St. Paul - (AP) - Loss today was estimated at more than $600,000 in the prairie-like fire which razed a fifth of the stockyards area here Memorial day.

Three firemen were overcome by smoke as flames engulfed the tinder-dry sheds, corrals and stock chutes. Handlers freed 2,000 cattle into swampland along the Mississippi river but 50 head perished in the fast-moving wall of fire. None of the firemen was seriously hurt.

Heaviest loss, more than $400,000, came in destruction of 88 stock cars on tracks adjoining the yards. E. L. Hoppel, general livestock agent for the Northern Pacific railroad, said the cattle cars, owned by various lines, were valued at $5,000 apiece.

A. L. Olson, president of the St. Paul Union Stockyards Company, said one-fifth of that firm's facilities was destroyed with a loss of upwards of $200,000. He said the figure included the 50 head of stock as well as large supplies of hay and straw.

Olson said the four-fifths capacity remaining would allow the yards to operate until rebuilding is started.

The yards occupy an area three-fourths of a mile long by a half mile wide. Full scale operations were resumed only last week after a 67-day strike of C.I.O. United Packing House workers had been settled.

A column of smoke visible 15 miles away arose from the blaze until it was brought under control two hours by the South St. Paul and St. Paul fire departments. St. Paul is eight miles north of here.

The nearby Swift and Armour packing plants were undamaged. Cause of the fire was not determined.