Explosion rocks Superior elevator
November 5, 2020
After an explosion rocked the Superior East elevator operated by the Aurora Cooperative on Saturday afternoon, firefighters worked the better part of two days to contain the related fire.
The Nuckolls County 911 dispatch center received a call reporting an explosion at the elevator at about 4:15 p.m. Saturday. That blast was heard throughout Superior. Prior to the explosion, the elevator was receiving grain as area farmers push to conclude the 2020 harvest.
Several injuries were reported in connection with the blast but fortunately none were classified as serious.
A family member said Colton Miller was working 140 feet above the ground when the explosion rocked the elevator. As he scrambled down a ladder to safety, he could see concrete crumbling.
His mother told friends she feared for his safety when she learned of the blast and tried to contact him by cell phone but didn’t get an answer. She was relieved to later learn he was okay but the yellow truck he was proud of had been destroyed and his cell phone lost.
Debris from the elevator was found on the north side of Highway 8.
The Superior Volunteer Fire Department has been assisted at various times by the Nelson, Deshler, Byron and Hardy fire departments. In addition, the cooperative sent trucks to Superior to help haul water to the fire scene and has had people at the elevator around the clock.
Sunday and Monday trucks were being filled from a hydrant near the Bomgaar’s Store and at the Superior fire hall.
Highway 8 was closed Sunday and county roads leading to the elevator were barricaded.
Several times Sunday and Monday the fire fighting equipment was returned to the barn only to be called back when the fire flared again. Most of the fire trucks remained parked in the fire barn on Tuesday but a close watch was being kept in case the fire flared again. It could be several days before all chance of a reoccurrence has passed.
The Nebraska Fire Marshal’s department is investigating and has not yet released a report as to the cause.
Eyewitnesses said the elevator’s load out shed was destroyed and the dump area damaged. About 50 feet was said to have been blown off one of the elevator’s concrete silos.
The cooperative had a salvage crew on site Monday but a damage estimate has not been released.
After being on duty fighting the fire much of the prior 48 hours, the Superior Fire Department canceled the fire practice planned for Monday night.
Members of the Superior Fire Department Auxiliary, local businesses and others have donated food, water and other items to the firefighters. Rather than leave the fire scene, some of the fire fighter slept in the trucks stationed at the fire scene.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad was scheduled to begin replacement of the crossing on the main access road to the elevator on Monday but no evidence of that work having started was evident on Tuesday.