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Lightning Causes Dust Explosion at Feed Plant

An explosion at a feed plant north of Oelwein, IA was likely sparked by a lightning strike.

OELWEIN, Iowa (AP) - An explosion Sunday morning at a feed plant north of Oelwein was likely sparked by a lightning strike, a fire official said.

No injuries were reported in the blast at the International Ingredient Corp. facility. Oelwein Fire Chief Wallace Rundle said six people were inside the plant but got out safely before firefighters arrived.

There was stormy weather in the area at the time, and Rundle said he believes a lightning strike ignited a pile of agricultural dust, causing the explosion.

When firefighters arrived at the plant, its roof had collapsed and there was extensive structural damage, Rundle said. He did not yet have a damage estimate.

A number listed for the Oelwein plant rang unanswered Sunday. A message left at the company's headquarters in Fenton, Mo., wasn't immediately returned. The office was closed for the weekend.

Plant manager Richard Heff told KWWL-TV that the workers were in another part of the plant.

"There was no equipment running at the plant and nobody working at that area at all," Heff said. "Everybody here that was at the facility was out in another building, so that was very fortunate."

Production at the plant is expected to slow in the next few days as repairs are made, he said.

International Ingredient's website says it has facilities in Oelwein, Oskaloosa, Marengo and Marshalltown in Iowa, as well as in Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin. The company mainly makes ingredients used in animal feed and pet food.