Report says Atchison grain elevator explosion started in main binBy KATHLEEN POINTER
The Kansas City Star
The Atchison grain elevator explosion that killed six men on Oct. 29 was an accident that started in the main bin area, according to a preliminary report the State Fire Marshal’s office issued Thursday.
The final report is not finished because debris still needs to be removed from the Bartlett Grain Co. elevator and fire continues to smolder in the bin areas, said Chief of Investigations Rose Rozmiarek.
“There are about three or four areas under where the grain is usually kept that still needs to be made accessible,” she said. “We have to give it some time to get that area cleared out.”
The office is also still conducting interviews.
There was no sign of criminal activity at the grain elevator, according to the preliminary report.
Investigation so far points to the explosion starting in the main bin area, which is where a majority of grain would flow through. The bins were about two-thirds full and contained mostly corn.
On the night of the explosion, workers were loading grain onto a train in that area, Rozmiarek said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting a separate investigation into the explosion, which may not be finished for several months.
On Wednesday, Bartlett officials said the company plans to rebuild in Atchison, though a timeline for that has not been released.
The blast killed four Bartlett employees, John Burke, 24, of Denton, and Ryan Federinko, 21, Curtis Field, 21, and Chad Roberts, 20, all of Atchison, and two private grain inspectors, Travis Keil, 34, of Topeka, and Darrek Klahr, 43, of Wetmore.
Pat Maxwell remains in critical condition at the University of Kansas Hospital. Clinton Ellerman, who was seriously injured in the explosion, has been released from the hospital.