Jefferson, IA Grain Elevator Explosion, Aug 1974

Jefferson IOWA Grain Elevator Explosion.jpg


Jefferson, Iowa (UPI) -- State Fire Marshal Wilbur Johnson said after a preliminary investigation late Thursday that he was assuming the fatal blast at the Farmers Cooperative Elevator was caused by an explosion of dust ignited by a cutting torch.
The explosion which blew apart the elevator Thursday killed three workmen and seriously injured another three.
Dead are:
MICHAEL L. MOORE, 24, all elevator employes from Jefferson.
The three dead men were killed almost immediately by the effects of the explosion and burns, according to Dr. Robert Burke, Green County medical examiner.
The injured are:
GEORGE A. TURNQUIST, 47, of Schaller.
STEVEN LAMB, 21, of Glidden.
JOHN NIELSEN, 66, of Holstein.
The three are employes of Younglove Construction Co. of Sioux City and all suffered burns.
TURNQUIST was listed in critical condition while LAMB and NIELSEN were listed in satisfactory condition at the Greene County Medical Center here.
"We're assuming there was an explosion of dust," Johnson said, "probably caused by a cutter torch."
"There was a cutter torch in the area but we don't know right now that it was in use," Johnson said.
"The escalators and elevators were running and grain was being moved from one bin to another."
But, the state fire marshal said he wouldn't know the definite cause for about two to three days.
The silos of the elevator are about 120 feet high and 27 feet in diameter.
There are at least 20 of the silos with inner storage bins all made of steel-reinforced concrete and capable of holding from 12,000 to 20,000 bushels of grain.
Elevator officials said the men were "putting the finishing touches on an expansion project" when the explosion occurred.
The blast blew off the metal head house at the top of the elevator and part of the long, low corrugated Texas house which runs the length of the silo tops was flattened.
The damage was estimated around $250,000 and one official said the complex was totally worth about $5 million. Officials said the elevator, which was set to receive new grain crops next month, will probably be out of business for maybe one year.

Ames Daily Tribune Iowa 1974-08-22