Explosion in Ohio Silo Frys 400,000 Bushels of Corn
June 11, 2008
By Matt Sanctis
Springfield News Sun - Springfield, OH
Thackery, Ohio No one was injured in the early morning explosion that leveled a maintenance building on the towers of a grain silo complex near Thackery on Monday, June 9.
The explosion rocked the Champaign Landmark Inc. facility on Ohio 55 at about 8:30 a.m., collapsing the roofs of several towers and rattling the windows of nearby homes, said Lt. Trent Zerkle of the Christiansburg Fire Department.
The explosion destroyed a maintenance shed on the towers, forced the roofs of six towers to collapse and shifted the roofs on two others, Zerkle said. Firefighters erred on the side of caution and did not go on the roof to assess the damage. Instead, they worked throughout the morning trying to assess the stability of the structure, as well as the possibility of the corn still burning in the towers. The silos held about 400,000 bushels of corn, Zerkle said.
About 30 firefighters from Christiansburg, Urbana, St. Paris and German Twp. responded to the scene.
Representatives from Landmark did not return a call seeking comment Monday.
Linda Baker, who lives within view of the complex across the street, said she was getting ready to leave for a workout when she heard a single loud boom that rattled the windows of her home. She looked outside to see a cloud of brown smoke billowing from the top of the towers.
"Honestly, it looked like an atomic bomb went off," she said.
Liz Spencer, another neighbor, said concrete and other debris was scattered along the road and across the street after the explosion.
"It's a wonder it didn't do more damage than it did," she said.
Firefighters were still working to determine the cause of the explosion Monday afternoon, and no damage estimate was available. It also is unclear how long the facility will be shut down.
As firefighters cleared the scene, Ohio 55 between Dialton Road and North-Hampton Donnelsville Road in Thackery were closed. Drivers were detoured to Ohio 235 to U.S. 36 and Ohio 560.
David Krejci, executive vice president of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, said "it's pretty rare" for explosions to occur in grain silos, considering the number of facilities across the United States.
While the cause of Monday's explosion is still under investigation, Krejci said in general, explosions can occur when grain dust builds up in the silos and comes in contact with an ignition source. Because oxygen and grain dust are almost always present in the silos, the ignition sources are often the only ingredient that can be controlled, he said.