SOUTH SIOUX CITY — Nearly two weeks after it exploded, the Andersen Farms grain elevator came toppling down.
Using extra equipment following a number of unsuccessful demolition attempts last weekend, Terminal Solutions of Radcliffe, Iowa, dismantled the top of the structure shortly after 6 p.m. Monday.
The successful demolition meant approximately two dozen families who had been displaced — there was the threat the damaged grain elevator could fall onto the nearby houses — were given permission to return home Monday night.
"We're elated," South Sioux City Fire Chief Clint Merithew said of the demolition. "It's been a long two weeks."
An explosion blew a large hole in the grain elevator's side shortly before 1 p.m. May 29. The cause of the explosion is unknown and still under investigation. One employee was hospitalized in Lincoln with severe burns.
Terminal Solutions began work Thursday and continued throughout the weekend. The initial attempts to bring the elevator down safely using cables and excavators failed when the elevator proved more durable than expected.
The failed attempts, Merithew said, had a lot to do with the fact that the contractor was pulling the structure in the opposite direction it was expected to fall — away from the houses.
The contractor brought additional equipment to the site Monday, and the added pull was enough to bring down the elevator.
Merithew said about 100 feet of the tower remains, but that portion has been deemed safe. Terminal Solutions will use a wrecking ball to demolish the rest of the structure, he said.
The future of the grain bins, which the state fire marshal had deemed undamaged, will be determined later.
South Sioux City Police Chief Ed Mahon said he, too, was pleased with the completion of Monday's demolition.
"Now we can move on," McMahon said. "(The contractor) has done his job and we'll do ours: move the people back in."
Members of the South Sioux City Police Department on Monday also volunteered to mow lawns for some of the impacted homeowners who gave them permission.
Merithew said the gas company worked on returning gas to the affected homes Tuesday.
The state of emergency, declared May 30, remains in effect. Merithew said the city council deferred a vote on lifting it during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday.