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Published: Monday, 9/13/2010

Fire crews break hole into grain elevator to douse fire; threat of explosion ruled out

BLADE STAFF

Fire crews on Monday night used a wrecking ball to punch a hole into the side of an East Toledo grain elevator where a fire was reported earlier in the day, causing evacuations and shutting down streets and boat traffic.

Grain could be seen spilling from the silo near the Maumee River but firefighters had yet to begin tackling the fire.

RELATED STORY:Children from some Toledo Public Schools to be picked up at dismissal time

Officials hope they can extinguish the blaze but acknowledged the silo could fall in the process. They have ruled out a threat of an explosion.

Joseph Taets, a vice president for Archer Daniels Midland grain operations where the fire was reported, said Monday afternoon that employees have cut beams into the facility to isolate the grain elevator from the others there.

Fire crews on scene at the grain elevator. Fire crews on scene at the grain elevator.
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The silo fire caused the evacuation of nearby homes and businesses, forced parents to pick up their children from nearby schools, and shut down boat traffic on part of the river.

The evacuations remained in effect Monday night.

Toledo fire department dispatchers said the incident at Archer Daniels Midland in the 1300 block of Miami Street was reported about 7 a.m.

Miami and Fassett streets were closed when a report of excessive heat in the elevator was reported and about 9 a.m., the determination was made to evacuate buildings closest to the grain elevator, including a mobile home park, two homes, and a handful of businesses, including the Archer Daniels building, officials said.The area being evacuated is bounded by Fassett and Miami streets at the northwest, Oakdale Avenue and Miami at the southwest, Fassett and Utah streets at the northeast, and Oakdale Avenue and Utah at the southeast.

Toledo firefighters say the fire has been contained in one tower and is now smoldering although the nearby roads will continue to be closed.

The burning grain elevator is connected to two other silos and all three are fill with wheat, but the conveyers connecting the three silos have been disconnected, Assistant Fire Chief Luis Santiago said.

He said firefighters have been pouring water on the grain elevator and he ruled out the risk of an explosion. He said there is some “structural compromise” to the grain elevator but if the silo falls it should fall away from the other ones. The blaze may have been burning for as long as a day, he said. The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Maumee River to boat traffic near the grain silo facility at 12:30 p.m. Monday.

Master Chief Aaron Zimmer of the Toledo office said watercraft is not permitted on the river between the Disalle Bridge (I-75) and the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge.

About 10 to 15 police detectives were knocking on doors today telling residents to evacuate and head to the East Toledo Senior Activities Center on White Street. Residents who were at work or away from home for other reasons should not return to the neighborhood but go directly to the senior center at 1001 White St., according to Deputy Chief Mike Murphy of the Toledo police.

Roman Blahoski, a spokesman for Archer Daniels Midland, said the grain facility on Miami Street was evacuated after employees noticed excessive heat in a wheat storage bin.He said it is his understanding there was no reports of a fire or explosion and no employees were injured.He said the facility was evacuated as a precautionary measure.

In July, 2005, a pair of explosions in The Andersons/Cargill grain elevator along the Maumee River shut down I-75.



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