Today in fire history: a series of explosions at a grain elevator facility cause seven fatalities

Blog Post created by paulalevesque Employee on Jun 8, 2014

On Monday, June 8, 1998 at approximately 9:20 a.m., a series of explosions occurred at a grain GrainSiloFireelevator facility in Haysville, Kansas (five miles south of Wichita).  There were seven fatalities as a result of the explosions.  Ten workers were injured by the blasts.

NFPA Fire Investigator Robert F. Duval arrived at the site on Tuesday, June 9, 1998 and joined a team of investigators from: Sedgwick County, the City of Wichita, the Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

This grain elevator was one of the largest in the world.  The facility contained 246 concrete silos, each measuring 30-ft. (9.1 m) in diameter and over 120-ft. (36.6 m) in height.  Each silo could hold approximately 70,000 bushels of grain, making the total capacity of the facility nearly 21 million bushels (including the 7 million bushels contained in the headhouse bins). At the time of the incident, the facility was at about 50% of capacity.  The facility measured over 2,700-ft. (823 m) or approximately 1/2 mile in length.  Wheat was the main product being stored in this facility.The explosions occurred as the facility was being prepared for the early summer harvest of wheat in the mid-west.  Workers were preparing the facility for the harvest by cleaning the gallery houses at the top of the silos as well as the conveyor tunnels under the silos.  Routine maintenance was also taking place throughout the facility.  That included greasing bearings on the four conveyor lines.

To see the full report NFPA members download Grain Elevator, Haysville, KS. To learn more about other storage facility fires go to NFPA's Reports and statistics, Storage