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Little known about explosion at CHS plant

August 7, 2012
By Per Peterson , Marshall Independent

TRACY - The day after an explosion at the CHS Inc. elevator literally shook parts of downtown Tracy, the investigation as to what caused it was still taking place.

"Cause isn't determined," CHS General Manager Todd Reif said Tuesday. "It's under investigation; the state fire marshal is here now trying to determine the cause."

The explosion happened in one of the legs of the elevator, Reif said. A leg is a structure that lifts grain to the top of the elevator.

Monday's blast injured two people - a CHS employee and an independent truck driver. It was reported about 1:40 p.m. Monday. The victims both suffered burns and were brought from Sanford Hospital in Tracy to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis for evaluation and treatment. The non-CHS employee suffered more extensive injuries.

While CHS officials have said there never was any immediate risk to the community of Tracy, the explosion did create quite a stir in town.

Nancy Erp heard and felt the blast at the Tracy Post Office on that side of downtown.

"It was a really loud boom," Erp said. "I thought it was either the elevator or something to do with the trains. We went out front and looked, but we really didn't see anything. Then we heard the ambulance."

Ade Miller, co-owner of Lights & Beyond farther down 3rd Street, roughly one block away from the elevator, said the noise from the blast initially made her think something "major" had fallen in the upstairs portion of her store.

"It was a big boom," she said. "You're first reaction is, 'something's wrong,' you know? Then we looked out and all these people were looking in that direction and we knew something was not right. It was a big boom, but nothing shook here. We just stayed inside - when you start to cluster around you're more in the way."

There is maintenance work going on at the elevator with a new conveyor being installed, but Reif wouldn't speculate whether that had anything to do with the cause of the explosion. He said nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary prior to Monday afternoon's incident. There was a semi unloading in the middle of three bays near where the explosion took place, Reif said.

There was no fire following the explosion, CHS said in a statement, and neither the extent of damage nor the impact on operations was known Tuesday.



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