Savage, MN Grain Elevator Blast, Oct 1978

Savage MINN Grain Elevator Explosion 1978.jpg Savage MINN Grain Elevator Explosion 1978 2.jpg


Savage, Minn. (AP) -- Three men were killed when an explosion and fire ripped through the Port Bunge grain terminal, Tuesday, authorities said.
Flames flared up briefly about 7:45 a.m. today and firefighters poured more water on the debris.
Heavy excavating equipment was brought in Tuesday night and authorities located the body of the third victim.
Two others at the elevator were hospitalized in serious condition following the 1:30 p.m. blast, which blew out a wall in the elevator shaft and hurled debris up to 200 feet.
CLARENCE SWENSON, supervisor of grain inspection for the state Department of Agriculture stationed at Bunge, identified three men who were unaccounted for -- AUGUST KES, Savage, a Minneapolis Grain Exchange weighing supervisor;
JOE FRANEK, New Prague, a weigher with the Bunge Corp.; and JIM GALT, St. Paul, a grain sampler trainee.
KES and FRANEK are believed to be the dead men whose bodies were recovered first, but officials are withholding positive identification pending lab tests by the Hennepin County medical examiner's office.
Savage Police Chief Dick O'Keefe said the first two bodies "were burned beyond recognition."
The injured were identified as DON KAHOUT, a maintenance man, and MICHAEL ALEXANDER, 30, Minneapolis, a state grain sampler. They were taken to a Shakopee hospital for treatment of first and second degree burns.
The explosion sprayed the area with corn and chunks of concrete and debris. Within seconds fire broke out in the head house at the top of the elevator, about 160 feet from the ground.
"I had just crawled out of the silos about two minutes before the explosion." said grain worker NORM JENSVOLD. "I saw the dust flying out behind me and I heard the rushing -- like a heavy wind -- and I knew what was going to happen. I ran hard as I could towards the river."

Daily Globe Ironwood Michigan 1978-10-04