UPDATE: Authorities Release Name of Woman Hurt in Grain Bin Explosion

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email
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Update:

The Lexington Fire chief says Zellidhay Villatoro was badly burned in the mid-morning grain dust explosion as she was unloading corn.

Tuesday afternoon State Fire officials were on scene trying to determine what happened.

State Fire Marshal Investigator Ryan Sylvester says the explosion happened at the top of the Dawson Feeder's grain elevator, but Villatoro, who was driving a feed truck, was injured at the bottom.

"She was down at the base of the legs at ground level and the explosion basically traveled down the shaft where the legs run in the elevator down to where she was at and basically caught her in the fireball," he says.

Sylvester says he can't access the top of the elevator safely to find out exactly what caused the explosion. He says the feed yard's insurance company will likely investigate the incident further.

"This is an accident, there's no criminal activity that's taken place here," he says. "The insurance companies, I'm sure, will want to bring in their people to try and pin-point where it's at, and they can bring in the heavy equipment stuff to be able to do that safely."

Sylvester says grain dust has a high risk of causing an explosion because the small particles band together to become very volatile.

"It just has a lot of surface area for the mass and it - once it goes, it is very very explosive," Sylvester says.

The feed yard manager says the nearly 70 year old structure has undergone many upgrades and even had people working on it as recently as this week.

Because the elevator is a private one, it's not subject to inspections by the State Fire Marshal's office. But Sylvester says grain dust explosions aren't something they see too often.

"It's something not real real common, but it can be an issue," he says.

Villatoro was taken by ambulance to a Lexington hospital before being flown to Lincoln.

The feed yard manager says the elevator is totally shut down and neighboring feedlots have offered to help them feed their cattle. He says their main concerns right now are for Villatoro and working on keeping the rest of their crew safe.

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Original Story:

One person has been injured in a grain elevator explosion at a feed yard near Lexington.

The explosion occurred Wednesday morning at Dawson Feeders in Lexington. Office Assistant Tracey Johnson says Zellidhay Villatoro was working when she was burned in the explosion.

She is being treated at the burn center at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center.

Lexington Fire Chief Dahlas Holbein says the blast destroyed the upper portion of the building, but it did not cause a fire.

Regina Shields with the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office says the explosion has been deemed an accident. She says the old wooden elevator was being used as a feed mill.

A message left for the burn center was not immediately returned.


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