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2 injured in elevator blast

By Staff | Jun 26, 2009

Firefighters look over damage at the West Central Co-op in Gowrie after a Wednesday morning explosion at the plant. Two workers were taken to Trinity Regional Medical Center. Gowrie, Farnhamville and Harcourt Fire Departments responded along with the Webster County Sheriffs Department, Gowrie Police and Trinity Regional Medical Center paramedics.

GOWRIE – A minor explosion in the West Central Cooperative elevator sent two employees to Trinity Regional Medical Center Wednesday morning in this southwest Webster County community.

“Following standard corporate safety procedures, West Central personnel immediately notified 911 and worked with area emergency crews,” according to Sarah Dorman, communication specialist for West Central.

Both men were treated and released from the hospital immediately, she said. The employees’ names were not released.

Gowrie Fire Chief Greg Benson said the two employees were in the area of the explosion. The fireball came out of a lower-level door on the south side of the silo, he said.

The explosion was confined to a receiving leg in the elevator, Dorman said.

Plant workers at the West Central Co-op in Gowrie wait to return to work Wednesday morning following an exlosion at the plant.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation by state fire marshal investigators, according to Jessica Lown of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Benson said it was a grain dust explosion, but it was not immediately clear what the ignition source was. There was no major structural damage reported, Dorman said.

Fire departments from Gowrie, Farnhamville and Harcourt and the Webster County Sheriff’s Department all responded to the scene. Officials from Midland Power were on scene about 9:15 a.m. to shut off power to the plant.

Emergency crews were off the scene by 11 a.m.

Nearly 15 years ago, a grain dust explosion at the West Central Co-op killed 30-year-old Jacquelin Panek, of Fort Dodge. A hot conveyor belt was named the probable cause of the October 1994 explosion.

Contact Angela Burch at (515) 573-2141 or aburch@messengernews.net.

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