Large grain dryer fire in Ohio

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A large grain dryer in Ohio caught fire last week, resulting in the photo above. Grain drying can be performed by “batch drying” (through the use of a mobile drying unit or by using a stand-alone drying unit like the one in the photo) or it can be accomplished by forcing heated air through a large storage bin, which serves as both the drying and cooling structure. When batch dryers are used, the grain is moving almost constantly through the heating system while heat is applied and moisture is driven out, and then it exits the unit while stil hot, to then be cooled in an adjacent storage bin. This is why grain facility operators must be vigilant about proper operation and maintain constant supervision on what is typically a fairly automated process. If something within the drying operation plugs up or stops flowing properly, the batch of grain within the drying unit can quickly overheat and ignite. A fire will quickly overtake the unit, and if the conveyance system is still operating, you could end up with burning material throughout an entire grain handling system, including additonal bins, bucket elevators, augers, pits, etc.
As noted in this article below, steam emitting from a grain batch dryer or a drying or cooling bin can often give the appearance of being on fire. This is especially true as the nights turn colder and the crisp night air allows for more visible steam vapor. This is important to note for anyone who may get a call to a possible grain system fire during the late night hours or overnights. Steam being emitted in the glow of a sodium-vapor security light can produce an impressive billowing glow that can easily be mistaken for a large fire, and passers-by could call this in as a fire. When you respond in late night hours, there may not be an operator on-site, so you will need to know something about the system and its operation to help you make a quick determination if there is a problem with the system or not.The key in either instance is that you must be sure you are familiar with your local facilities and that you are prepared to perform an accurate size-up of an incident upon arrival.

From the Bellefontaine Examiner: 

Indian Joint Fire District responded at about 6:30 a.m. and was on the scene until roughly 3 p.m., assisted by firefighters from Bellefontaine, Huntsville, Richland Township, Lakeview and DeGraff.

The cause has yet to be determined.

Witnesses said the top of the 25,000-bushel capacity, continuous feed-type GSI tower dryer looked like a “dome of fire.”

Adam Kipker, whose family owns the property, said he last checked the dryer about 4 a.m. and everything appeared normal and was “flowing fine.” Mr. Kipker’s father came to his home about 90 minutes later and alerted him to the blaze.

The younger Kipker noted there had never been any problems with the 10-year-old unit.

He estimated the blaze caused about $300,000 damage.

Bellefontaine firefighters were using the department’s ladder truck late Saturday morning to douse the structure from one side, while Indian Joint personnel worked from the ground on the opposite side in an effort to extinguish smoldering corn inside the dryer.

A crane was to be brought to the scene to open up the dryer and allow better access to the burning corn.  

Corn was piled up around the base of the dryer.

The Washington Township Police Department, Logan County Sheriff’s Office and Indian Lake EMS also assisted.

Steam emitting from the dryer often gave it the appearance of being on fire, Mr. Kipker said.

“This time it was.”

via Large Grain Dryer Fire in Lewistown


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