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8 Tons of Canola Destroyed in Fire

by Stan Maddux

Published: Friday, November 8, 2019

An estimated eight tons of canola oilseed stored at Kingsbury Elevator was destroyed on Monday.

Kingsbury Fire Chief Mark Ritter said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

"In my opinion, the canola was a total loss," Ritter said.

The burning canola was inside a 10- to 15-foot-high storage capsule, said LaPorte County Hazardous Materials Team Director Jeff Hamilton.

The capsule was inside a century-old wood-en structure containing about a dozen other storage bins.

The outside of each bin is made of wood and lined on the inside with tin or steel, Hamilton said.

Some of the firefighters climbed the ladder on a truck and crawled through an opening at the top of the storage building to apply water to the burning grain from the top of the capsule.

Eventually, the capsule, once temperatures reached safe enough levels, was emptied from the bot-tom and the rest of the grain was doused in water.

"It was burning from top to bottom," Ritter said.

Hamilton said two other storage bins were also emptied so that grain wouldn't ignite from heat emitting from the adjacent capsule.

Firefighters from departments at other locations such as LaPorte, Scipio Twp. and Noble Twp. responded and most were gone about seven hours after first responding about 1 p.m.

The canola was brought there from the Oklahoma area to be mixed with other ingredients at the eleva-tor for sale as livestock feed.

Canola is a plant with seeds crushed to produce oil for cooking and meal. It's widely used worldwide as a source of protein.

Hamilton said spontaneous combustion from heat naturally building up on the inside of the grain is among the potential causes.

Another possibility is the fire started in the canola while it was being stored and spread, he said.

Hamilton said there was no damage to the storage building.

The Canadian National Railroad with tracks leading to and from the elevator temporarily stopped its trains until firefighters were finished extinguishing the fire.

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