SOUTH SIOUX CITY — An explosion ripped a gaping hole in the side of a South Sioux City grain elevator Tuesday afternoon, leaving one person hospitalized with serious injuries.
Dozens of residents were evacuated from homes in the vicinity and spent Tuesday night clear of the area, as crews continued to examine the elevator's structural integrity.
"It's still a volatile situation," South Sioux City Mayor Rod Koch said Tuesday evening.
The initial explosion happened shortly before 1 p.m. at the grain elevator at 2415 Fourth St. owned by Andersen Farms Inc. Authorities reported multiple smaller explosions following the first.
South Sioux City Police Chief Ed Mahon said three employees were on site when the explosion occurred. One was transported to Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City with injuries believed to be not life-threatening. He was later transported to a Lincoln hospital.
A second person sustained slight injuries but was not transported, and the third was not injured.
The names or ages of the victims have not been released. Mahon said the cause of the explosion remains undetermined.
Two members of Nebraska Task Force 1, an Urban Search & Rescue task force in the national disaster response system under the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were dispatched Tuesday afternoon to conduct a structural damage and needs assessment.
A news release said as of Tuesday evening, engineers had deemed the building unstable in its current state.
As firefighters knocked down flames using ladder trucks, a gas company crew tore up portions of the street to shut gas off to the structure in order to allow firefighters to extinguish the remaining gas-fed flames.
"We heard a huge crash and it shook our whole house, and then a couple of minutes after that we heard all the sirens," said Brayden Logan, who lives about four blocks from the elevator.