North Kansas City, MO Grain Elevator Blast, Apr 1978


North Kansas City, Mo. (AP) - The area's second fatal grain elevator explosion in four months sent a ball of fire 300 feet into the air, killing one worker and injuring 35.
The Friday afternoon blast ripped through the main block of silos of Tabor Milling Co., on the west edge of downtown North Kansas City, and sent chunks of concrete flying from the 10-story, 3.3 million bushel elevator.
An insurance investigator at the scene, G. B. Martin of the General Adjustment Bureau called the blast
"a typical grain dust explosion."
A series of grain dust explosions last December claimed 53 lives in Louisiana, Texas and several Midwestern points.
The dead man, JAMES HERRINGTON, 26, of Independence, Mo., was found buried in the rubble about three hours after the blast. Plant officials said HERRINGTON, an electrician, had been doing contract work for the mill.
A mill employee, EUGENE LARRABEE, 42, was listed in critical condition early today with internal injuries and broken arms and legs. Hospital spokesmen said 17 employees and 12 firemen were treated at the hospital five of those were admitted. Seven other mill employees were treated at an industrial clinic.
Showroom windows at three car dealerships and other businesses within two blocks of the plant were shattered.
Corn and soybeans in some of the silos continued to smolder early today as firemen used aerial trucks to hose down the elevators.
Many of the 150 employees who work the day shift had just left when the explosion occurred, said Charles Serrault the plant manager.
One dazed worker, who witnessed the grain explosion at Desert Gold Feed Co. near Liberty last January, in which three died, said Friday's explosion made the earlier blast
"look like a fairyland".
Other employees said they were knocked off their feet while standing in offices in a building adjacent to the elevators.
Federal investigators joined officials from Tabor's parent company Archer-Daniels-Midland Inc. of Decatur, Ill., at the plant in searching for the cause. An explosion at the plant last spring which injured one person, caused no structural damage. That blast was attributed to a short circuit in a motor which ignited grain dust.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration last inspected the plant in November, said Serrault, who has been manager at the plant about two months. The mill was cited for several violations at that time, Serrault said, but he declined to identify them.
Asked if the problems had been corrected, Serrault said, "We have complied with their wishes."
The plant processes corn and soybeans into animal feed and into other products used for producing snack food.

News-Palladium Benton Harbor Michigan 1978-04-22