MINNEAPOLIS, March 19 (UPI) -- A fire in the Soudan Underground Mine in Minnesota's Iron Range could damage a $60 million research facility, officials said Saturday.
The mine is part of the Soudan Underground Mine State Park and the laboratory operated by the University of Minnesota nearly a half-mile underground conducts research on the origin of the universe, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
The blaze set off an alarm Thursday. Firefighters were trying to figure out how to extinguish the fire without damaging the laboratory.
Because the fire is burning timbers lining the mineshaft, officials were forced to turn off electrical power, which shut down pumps dispelling rising ground water.
Minnesota Interagency Fire Center spokesman Carson Berglund said the rising water would eventually put out the fire, but "in between, there's $60 million worth of equipment."
Berglund said an "incident management team," with help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and experts from the mining industry, are "brainstorming" ideas on how to proceed.