Firefighters dealing with grain fire in silo at Miller Milling (UPDATED 3:30 p.m.)

Posted: April 1, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Nine fire companies from Frederick County and Winchester responded this afternoon to the Miller Milling Company, 302 Park Center Drive, where a fire was reported in one of the silos storing wheat for the pasta manufacturing process.

Speaking at his command post in the parking lot  just west of the plant, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Chief Dennis Linaburg said the fire in the smoldering grain could have been sparked by a problem with equipment used to lift the grain from the bottom of the silo and move it into the nearby manufacturing plant.

The alarm came in at 12:44 p.m.

Linaburg said the manufacturing building was cleared of employees because there was no way to tell whether any of the burning grain was transported by the elevator into the plant before the fire was spotted.

A team of firefighters was in the building checking on that possibility, while other firemen climbed the ladders attached to the side of the silo to reach the burning grain.

Linaburg said the electricity was shut off to the silos, which also took out the possibility of using personnel elevators to take firemen up to the top of the silo.

That meant using the exterior ladders for part of the climb, as the Rouss Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company ladder truck, fully extended, could not reach the top of the silo.

After about an hour, crews were able to isolate the machinery and restart the electric current for the personnel elevators, which was making it easier, Linaburg said,” to get men to the roof of the silo.

“We’re taking every precaution,” Linaburg said, because grain dust in the silos can be explosive.

Working the scene were Clear Brook, Round Hill, Gainesboro, Greenwood, and Millwood Station from Frederick County and Rouss, Friendship, South End and Shawnee from Winchester.

Check for further updates and see Tuesday's Winchester Star for full details.