A Thursday morning grain elevator explosion in LaCrosse that badly burned four Co-Alliance employees appears to have been the result of an industrial accident, according to officials with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, OSHA and Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office are continuing the investigation, which could take a couple of days to conclude.
That’s standard operating procedure. The explosion happened just before 9 a.m. and rocked the town of LaCrosse. One neighbor initially thought it was thunder until he heard sirens. Another suspected an earthquake may have occurred until she looked across State Road 8 and saw the side of the silo was gone.
Employees Jonah Pacione, 19, and Emilio Galicia, 43, were taken to St. Joseph Burn Center in Fort Wayne. Craig Chase, 34, and Chris Fort, 26, are patients at Porter Memorial Hospital in Valparaiso. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening. Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still says company personnel will be on-site at the hospitals to provide support and assistance to the employees and their families.
Officials with the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department are concerned about the structural integrity of the building and caution bystanders to remain clear of the site in case the precarious silo falls. They secured the area last night, and additional security will be provided until more permanent arrangements can be made.