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Published: Wednesday, 9/15/2010

Officials still unsure silo can be salvaged

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER
SMoldering wheat pours out of holes that a wrecking ball punched into the Miami Street grain silo SMoldering wheat pours out of holes that a wrecking ball punched into the Miami Street grain silo
THE BLADE/LISA DUTTON Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The day after a wrecking ball first punched holes in a silo to drain burning wheat from an East Toledo grain elevator, it remained unclear whether the structure could be salvaged.

Toledo firefighters kept watch all day yesterday on one of the silos at 1308 Miami St., a site owned by Archer Daniels Midland. Smoldering wheat was first reported at 6:45 a.m. Monday by ADM workers who noticed high temperature readings in the silo.

Although firefighters initially expected the structure to tumble, company officials were hopeful yesterday that the silo might be saved.

Roman Blahoski, spokesman for ADM in Decatur, Ill., said structural engineers will remain on site today to assess whether the silo can be salvaged.

“We are still in the process of examining the grain bin. Until that is completed, no decisions will be made,” he said.

As many as five holes may be cracked into the silo to empty the heated grain, Toledo Fire Assistant Chief Luis Santiago said.

The goal yesterday was to move out “as much product as possible” and that is likely to take several days, Chief Santiago said. The process is dangerous because the movement of grain could spread the fire, he added. He compared the incident to a July, 2005, fire at a grain elevator across the Maumee River owned by The Andersons/Cargill, in which a pair of blasts shut down I-75, causing major headaches at the start of a holiday weekend.

“The grain elevator at The Andersons, that was a seven-day process,” Chief Santiago said. “You just know going into it, it's going to take a long time.”

Several businesses on Miami Street that were closed because of the fire Monday reopened yesterday, including Custom Deco Inc., 1343 Miami Street. The manufacturer prints decorative patterns on glassware and dinnerware and was back to operating three shifts as of midnight yesterday, said Clif Perryman, president of the firm.

Tractor-trailers making deliveries to the firm were granted special access around remaining roadblocks via a gravel service road on ADM property, Mr. Perryman said.

Throughout the operations at the grain elevator, the fire department has “been very understanding of our needs at our manufacturing plant, and very open to hear our concern,” Mr. Perryman said.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:btharp@theblade.comor 419-724-6086.



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