St. Louis, MO Grain Dust Explosion, Jan 1962


St. Louis, Jan. 11 (AP) -- A shattering grain dust explosion sent flames roaring through the huge Ralston Purina Co., industrial complex Wednesday leaving two or possibly three dead and 43 injured.

The blast destroyed an old three-story granary and spread to a complex of milling buildings and an 11-story grain elevator. Central production facilities were burned out despite efforts of 150 firemen in bone-chilling, near-zero weather. Icy shrouds formed on fire equipment, firemen and rescue workers.

It was St. Louis' coldest day in 22 years.

JOHN WOODS, 42, a worker, was killed in the blast, Fire Capt. ROY SIMPSON, 55, died of an apparent heart attack while fighting the blaze. Another worker was missing and feared dead.

Unaccounted for was SHRIELL PARKER of East St. Louis, Ill., an employe whose car was found parked near the plant and unclaimed. The charred wreckage was searched for his body.

St. Louis city hospital reported 37 injured in serious condition. Five firemen and one policeman were treated at the hospital and released.

The blast occurred in or near an 80-year-old grain mill which was the city's first medical college. It adjoins the production facility, less than a mile from the heart of downtown St. Louis.

About 1,200 Ralston employes evacuated the complex in near zero temperatures.

A Ralston spokesman said much of the firm's work will be transferred to other plants.

Southern Illinoisan Carbondale 1962-01-11