9 companies battle fire at local grain silo

Posted: April 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

Firefighters on the scene of a fire at Miller Milling in Fort Collier Industrial Park on Monday ready a ladder for use.
Firefighters were on various levels of the silos at Miller Milling investigating a fire at the Fort Collier Industrial Park business on Monday.
Denny Linaburg (left), chief of the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Department, talks to firefighters at the command post set up at the Miller Milling fire on Monday.

WINCHESTER — Nine fire companies from Frederick County and Winchester responded Monday afternoon to the Miller Milling Co. in Fort Collier Industrial Park, where a fire was reported in one of the silos that stores wheat for the pasta manufacturing process.

Speaking from his command post in the parking lot just west of the plant, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Chief Dennis Linaburg said the smoldering fire 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, located at 302 Park Center Drive, 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 went into the building to check on that possibility, while others climbed the ladders attached to the side of the silo to reach the burning grain.

Linaburg said the electricity to the silos had to be shut off, which removed the possibility of using personnel elevators to take firefighters up to the top. That meant using exterior ladders for at least part of the climb — since the Rouss Fire 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 made it easier for the firefighters to get to the roof of the silo.

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

Miller Milling produces a variety of durum and hard wheat products for its customers, according to the company website. It also services the adjacent pasta manufacturing facility owned by New World Pasta.

Steve Adams, manager of Miller Milling, could not be contacted Monday afternoon.

Other company employees at the scene had no comment on the incident.

Fire companies from Clear Brook, Round Hill, Gainesboro, Greenwood, and Millwood Station from Frederick County and Rouss, Friendship, South End and Shawnee from Winchester responded to the scene.

The fire in the silo flared up again about 4:50 p.m. Units finally began clearing the scene shortly before 7 p.m.

— Contact Val Van Meter atvvanmeter@winchesterstar.com