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Firefighters killed in Ohio silo explosion


Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
October 2, 2003

New Knoxville, Ohio-- Two firefighters were killed while trying to prevent a blast that blew the top off a burning silo at a western Ohio lumber company. Several other firefighters and lumber company employees were injured in the early morning explosion.

The explosion sent chunks of the 75-foot-high concrete silo flying into a cemetery 100 yards away.

Nancy Buschur, who lives close to the Hoge Lumber Co. said that "It sounded like somebody had dropped a boulder or something on our home."

New Knoxville Fire Chief Scott Schroer said that in an effort to avoid an explosion firefighters had been trying to hose down the silo, which was filled with wood shavings and sawdust, for about two hours before the structure exploded around 9 a.m.

"What we had here was a dust silo that feeds the boiler for the lumber company," Schroer said. "They've had fires in these before."

Fire departments from several surrounding areas responded.

The victims were identified as Kenneth Jutte and John Garman from the 32- member New Bremen Fire Department. The veteran firemen had a combined total of 28 years experience in firefighting. Jutte was one of two firefighters on top of the silo. Garman was in an aerial bucket at roof level and was thrown to the ground.

Records from the state fire marshal's office show there have been 11 fires at the lumber company since 1991. No injuries were reported in any of those fires.

Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion at the family owned business. The lumber company makes cabinetry and building supplies.

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