Manitoba

Spark in grain silo blamed for Crystal City, Man. explosion and fire

Grain dust sparked an explosion that destroyed a Crystal City, Man. silo, the province says.

Cause deemed accidental

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      Grain dust sparked an explosion that destroyed a Crystal City, Man. silo, the province says. 

      Damage from the Aug. 20 blaze is estimated at $2.5 million. The Paterson Grains elevator was reduced to ash.

      After starting at the elevators, the fire quickly spread into the town's commercial strip, destroying the Cudmore Bros. Hardware store building.

      In a statement, a provincial spokesperson noted that grain dust is highly combustible. A spark within the elevator ignited the grain dust, causing an explosion, the spokesperson said. It's been deemed an accident. 

      Firefighters from surrounding communities descended on Crystal City — 155 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, not far from the U.S. border — to battle the blaze.

      Local farmers and a nearby Hutterite community banded together to haul water, while other neighbours cooked food for the firefighters, residents said on social media. RCMP officers helped with evacuations of nearby homes and crowd control as people gathered to watch the fire.

      Brodie Richardson, 31, was working at the grain elevator when the the fire broke out. He suffered second-degree burns over the upper half of his body and was airlifted to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. The community rallied to help the Richardson family take in their harvest after his injury.