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Grain elevator blast seen, felt miles away

Sun., Oct. 30, 2011

ATCHISON, Kan. – An explosion at a northeast Kansas grain elevator injured at least two people Saturday, shaking the ground for miles around and sending a fireball high into the night sky that was visible across the river in Missouri, authorities said.

The two injured victims were in critical condition in the burn unit at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., about 50 miles south of the blast site at the Bartlett Grain Co. elevator in Atchison, Kan., hospital spokesman Dennis McCulloch said.

A news release from Atchison city officials said multiple injuries were reported, but that authorities were withholding details pending notification of families.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately known, though grain elevator mishaps often occur after grain dust becomes suspended in the air and turns explosive in the right conditions.

Several area police and firefighting agencies were on the scene late Saturday, and fire crews were seen pumping water onto the wreckage well into the night.

The explosion could be seen and felt across Atchison, a town of about 11,000 people known as the birthplace of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.

Across the river in Buchanan County, Mo., a sheriff’s dispatcher said their office took numerous calls from residents saying they could hear the explosion deep into the county.


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