Selkirk, KS Demolition Accident, Nov 1974

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BACKFIRE DAMAGED ELEVATOR.

Selkirk, Kan. -- A planned explosion backfired Monday and caused undetermined damage to grain storage facilities at the Farmco Grain Elevator here.
Bob John, assistant manager of the elevator, said a demolition team was hired to demolish an old 200-foot tall grain storage facility. The old facility had two grain storage bins collapse Aug. 2 and the remainder of the structure was deemed unfit for repair.
"We hired a demolition team to come in, set a few charges and demolish the remainder of the structure," John said. "Obviously, things didn't exactly go as planned."
He estimated about 1,800 pounds of explosives were used during the demolition.
The blast backfired, causing secondary explosions through an underground tunnel and extensively damaging a new grain storage annex 120 feet from the old elevator. The tunnel connected both grain storage sites.
Also damaged, were the elevator's office building and a nearby warehouse. The shock of the blast was reported to have damaged two houses and the train depot and other buildings in Selkirk.
Cause of the severe blast remains a mystery. He said the original blast, which was set off by an electrical charge, might have triggered a massive dust explosion which caused most of the actual damage.
"We don't know for sure yet, if it was a dust explosion or not," the assistant manager said.
"But more and more, the possibility is coming down to that."
There were no injuries reported.
John said the old building, that was supposed to crumble to the ground without damaging the existing annex, is still standing. About a third of the old structure remained upright following the blast Monday afternoon.
"Nothing went right. There's still some more blasting to do here," John said. "I guess it was just one of those things that didn't go like planned."

Hutchinson News Kansas 1974-11-27