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Eight people hurt after explosion, fire at ADM plant

Screenshot from WAND News' video of smoke rising from ADM plant in Decatur after an explosion on Sept. 10, 2023.
Screenshot from WAND News' video of smoke rising from ADM plant in Decatur after an explosion on Sept. 10, 2023.

Eight people were hurt in an explosion and fire at Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur. It happened at the East plant Sunday night. No cause has been given.

The extent of the injuries is unknown, but officials say some were taken to trauma centers for higher level care.

ADM issued a statement that evening:

Tonight at approximately 7:11 p.m., there was an explosion at the East Plant within ADM’s processing complex in Decatur. ADM immediately contacted the Decatur Fire Department, which remains on the scene. Several employees were injured and transported to the local hospital for treatment. Our thoughts are with our colleagues. We do not have a confirmed cause at this time.

It’s the third accident at ADM in Decatur this year. The most recent, also at the East plant, involved a fire that injured two firefighters.

Monday afternoon, the Decatur Fire Department offered more information:

At 7:12 p.m., the Decatur Fire Department was dispatched to an explosion and fire at the ADM East processing plant. The first arriving fire apparatus were led back to the area of the blast and encountered numerous injured workers and severe damage to a couple of buildings. ADM will have to provide the number of buildings damaged, as their facility has certain designations for buildings that are connected. The Battalion Chief upgraded the alarm to a 2nd alarm while enroute due to the reports being received.

The first engine company to arrive at the west side of the blast area was faced with debris scattered over a wide area. The fires were burning in an approximately 10 story building with adjoining buildings to the north and south. The building to the west of this area also suffered severe damage. Rail cars hindered initial fire suppression efforts and were moved to provide access to the fire building. The first engine company to arrive on the east side of the blast area was confronted with several injured workers. They worked with the ambulances on scene to treat the injured workers.

Hazards were assessed with ADM personnel and were mitigated. Ladder trucks were set up on the west side of the explosion building to assess damage and flow water into the burning areas. Crews pulled two larger caliber hoses and began flowing water into the area to control fires from spreading. Engine 5 utilized their aerial waterway to extinguish visible fire on the east side of the building. Large, suspended pieces of building material presented a hazard to personnel, so the area was roped off to prevent access to these areas.

ADM provided a drone with thermal imaging capabilities to assess remaining hot spots with real time imagery. Once exterior fires were contained, we were able to send crews into the buildings with ADM personnel to extinguish remaining fires inside the structures. Due to the extensive damage, this was a long and slow process.

In total, there were eight ( injured workers. Six (6) workers were transported by ambulance, and their conditions are unknown at this time. Four (4) Medivac helicopters were utilized at a local hospital to air lift the injured to trauma centers for higher level of care. No firefighters sustained any injuries during the operation that is still ongoing. At approximately 2:00 a.m. the department reduced the fire apparatus on-scene to one fire company. They are currently working with ADM personnel to verify all fires are out.

Any additional information will need to be provided by ADM.

The explosion Sunday was large enough to rattle nearby homes and send a tower of smoke into the air. The plant was evacuated for a period of time.

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