The affected portion of the feed mill was “down” for a short period of time following last week's incident and is now back in operation, said Carol Reynolds, a spokesperson with Kent Corporation.
Deluxe Feeds, Inc. is a part of Kent Nutrition Group, a division of the Kent Corporation.
The Iowa-based facility was reportedly producing dairy feed when the fire and explosion took place, said Brad Hindt, assistant chief with the Sheldon Fire Co. in a press conference about the event.
“[There were] no injuries,” he said. “Upon arrival, all the employees were account for. At the time, they had five people inside the building that was affected, and there were no injuries in those five individuals.”
The explosion in the ingredient bin occurred while the bin was being filled with ingredients, Reynolds told us.
The incident happened in the existing part of the facility and was not related to the ongoing expansion project taking place at the site, she said. Work on the expansion was not hindered by the event.
“The cause of the explosion is under investigation,” said Kent in a statement provided to us about the incident.
Addressing the fire, explosion
The initial call for the fire came in about 15.45, said Hindt. “Upon my arrival, we had what appeared to be an explosion and a small fire with some debris on the roof of the adjacent building between the two mills – so that was our initial call for a fire and an explosion.”
The extent of the damage was localized to the area that exploded, he said. “That facility encountered heavy damage, probably mainly to that part and some electrical in the adjacent building, and then there was some roof structure that was also damaged,” he added.
In addition to the Sheldon Fire Company, Sanborn Fire Department responded to provide mutual aid and a drone was operated by Sioux County Sheriff’s Office Drone Response Team to provide additional visual information, he said. Sheldon County first responders also took part along with O’Brien County Emergency Management.
“We Initially attacked the fire on the roof part that was down, and there was also a fire in the electrical room,” said Hindt. “We extinguished that, and then pulled back and did a ‘wait and see’ – you need more patience than anything with these types of facilities.”
“With the dust, we didn’t want to stir anything up,” he added.
Following the drone’s inspection, a visual inspection was made of the bins, he said. “We went up with water and foam from the top and sprayed it with foam to coat it, to kind of put a barrier on it, and smother the smoldering embers inside the bins,” he added.
“The safety and security of those on-site is our top priority,” said Kent about the incident. “While no individual was injured as a result of the explosion, there was damage to the facility.”
“We are grateful to the local fire departments and law enforcement for their quick response protecting our employees and the general public,” the company added.
Other industry accidents
Kent is not the only company to have incidents at a feed or grain facility this year.
In March, there was a grain storage bin collapse and spill of more than 21,000 tons of corn at a Bunge North America facility in LaGrange, Missouri.
And earlier in the year, there was a fatal explosion at a storage silo at an ADM site in Iowa.