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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Crack in wheat silo prompts evacuation

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A large crack in a 100-foot Hawaiian Flour Mill silo that contained 1,250 tons of wheat forced the evacuation of businesses surrounding the Nimitz Highway mill yesterday.

The crack and bulge in the concrete silo were discovered early yesterday morning. The mill is near Pier 24 and is surrounded by many businesses, including Earl Scheib auto painting and DHX Dependable Hawaiian Express movers.

By 11:30 a.m., workers were told to leave.

"What they were worried about is the concrete from the (collapsed) silo somehow gaining velocity, going across the roadway and puncturing one of the fuel holding tanks," said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Kenison Tejada. He said there also was a concern that the particles from the silo could cause a dust explosion.

Hawaiian Flour Mill officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Esquirion Crail, a grain operator, said he had never seen such a large crack in a silo in the 40 years that he has been with the company. He was overseeing the transfer of the wheat from the bulging silo to another tank last night, a process that he said could take nearly two days.

Crail said he wasn't concerned about an explosion or a possible collapse of the silo.

"I don't think the thing would come down because it's all steel bars in there," Crail said. "I think it would just crack open, and the thing would come gushing out. There's going to be a lot of mess out here. That's all. But I think they wanted to get everyone out for safety."

Reach Curtis Lum at 525-8025 or culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.