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PERHAM, MN-A train car going 60 miles an hour derailed and destroyed the warehouse of Maud Borup’s chocolate factory early this week in Perham, MN, a farm town about 170 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.

Although 20 employees were in the factory at the time, none of them were in the warehouse and no one was hurt. But the plant will be out of business for several weeks, and after the in-store inventory is sold off, Maud Borup’s three Twin Cities candy stores will shut down until early next month. Maud Borup, the candy shop that started in downtown St. Paul in 1907, has stores on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, and Calhoun Square and Gaviidae Common in Minneapolis, says Kim Kalan, who owns the business with her brother-in-law, Mark Kalan.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad has offered to cover what its business interruption insurance doesn’t, she says. The city of Perham, where Maud Borup moved its factory from St. Paul about 1 1/2 years ago, offered to help find new warehouse space, clean up the site and finance the new operations. The company leases the building from Kenny Nelson, who owns Tuffy’s Pet Foods in Perham.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe train was heading for the Twin Cities from Dilworth when apparently a wheel broke on an empty car, which then jumped the tracks and smashed into the warehouse.

The impact of the crash ripped open the 18,000-sf building “like a can opener,” Kalan says, and completely destroyed its 10,000 sf warehouse. The car severed a natural gas line when it hit the warehouse, and dozens of people were evacuated from City Hall and nearby businesses. The railroad is investigating the cause of the incident.

Maud Borup’s warehouse had about two months worth of inventory ready to ship to its largest customers, including Marshall Field’s, Caribou Coffee and Borders Bookstores. As a result of the lost inventory and production time, the company will miss out on some $500,000 in Christmas sales, about a third of this year’s business.

Since it will take a few weeks to gear up production again, the 20 or so employees at the factory will be out of a job for a while. And since Maud Borup’s entire inventory was lost in the wreckage, its three Twin Cities stores and the 20 or so employees who work at them will close for two weeks or so once their in-store inventory is sold off, and probably won’t reopen until early November, Kim Kalan said.

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