“Hot Spot” Sends Fire Crews Back To Grain Silo

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A LaPorte County grain elevator burst into flames yesterday, just one day after an explosion which left one man dead.   The Sheriffs’ Department confirmed that firefighters were called to the scene around 7 p.m. and that no one was injured in that fire.  One witness tells Lakeshore News that officials were in the process of removing grain from the silo when a “hot spot” in the center ignited.  State investigators at the Co-Alliance grain elevator in Union Mills are still awaiting access to a silo where an explosion killed a 67-year-old worker on  Monday.  Structural engineers are determining if it’s safe for investigators to enter the heavily-damaged silo.

James (Jack) Swank of Union Mills died after he fell 175 feet from the top of the elevator during the explosion.  Swank was loading rail cars with grain.  Co-Alliance CEO Kevin Still said the company is cooperating with investigators.  LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department Major John Boyd said it appears the explosion was an accident.   It could be six months before a final report is available.

In the meantime, grain silo safety in the aftermath of the LaPorte County explosion is on the minds of officials at the Jasper County Farm Bureau.  They will present what are called “grain rescue tubes” to volunteer fire departments on Thursday at the Farm Bureau office in Rensselaer.  Volunteer fire departments have been trained in how to properly rescue people who are trapped in silos, and the tubes will assist in those rescue efforts.


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