November 3, 2011 / 9:01 PM / 7 years ago

Probe of deadly grain elevator blast will take months

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - Funerals began on Thursday for six men killed in an Atchison, Kansas grain elevator explosion likely to be under investigation for months.

The remains of an Atchinson, Kansas grain elevator, owned by Bartlett Grain Co., are shown on October 30, 2011 following an evening grain dust explosion that occurred October 29. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

Mourners paid their respects Thursday morning to Ryan Frederinko, 21, who died in the Saturday night explosion. Services will be held in coming days for the other victims, Curtis Field, 21, Chad Roberts, 20, John Burke, 24, Darrek Klahr, 43, and Travis Keil, 34.

The explosion at the elevator in Atchison, about 50 miles northwest of Kansas City, occurred while rail cars were being loaded with grain. The blast could be felt from at least three miles away and blew apart a structure atop the elevator.

Investigators for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the scene again Thursday, said spokesman Scott Allen. The search for what caused the blast could take up to six months, he said.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal may have a preliminary finding on the cause next week after personnel are able to gain access to additional parts of the elevator, said Rose Rozmiarek, chief of investigations.

Allen said the leading factor in grain elevator explosions is dust, which can be highly combustible. There are federal limitations stating that no more than one-eighth inch of dust can accumulate on surfaces in the elevators, he said.

Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton

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