Iowa plant explosion, fire lead to injuries, evacuation

December 9, 2022 GMT
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Firefighters work to control a blaze at a grain elevator, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Marengo, Iowa. An explosion has caused injuries and an evacuation of people near the operation. The explosion and fire happened about 11:15 a.m. Thursday in Marengo at a grain elevator owned by Heartland Crush. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)
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Firefighters work to control a blaze at a grain elevator, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Marengo, Iowa. An explosion has caused injuries and an evacuation of people near the operation. The explosion and fire happened about 11:15 a.m. Thursday in Marengo at a grain elevator owned by Heartland Crush. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP)

MARENGO, Iowa (AP) — An explosion and fire at an agricultural plant Thursday in eastern Iowa has caused injuries and an evacuation of people near the operation.

The explosion and fire happened about 11:15 a.m. in Marengo at a plant owned by Heartland Crush, a soybean crushing company. Hours later, the fire continued to burn.

Five people were taken by ambulance to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and others were driven separately to hospitals in personal vehicles, according to a city of Marengo news release.

Iowa State Patrol Senior Trooper Bob Conrad told the Des Moines Register that at least 30 people were in the plant when the explosion happened. It wasn’t clear what caused the explosion.

Conrad said the fire was still burning Thursday afternoon and might continue through the night.

Crews from several counties were fighting the fire, which caused a huge plume of black smoke visible for miles.

Residents near the plant were evacuated, and the Iowa County Sheriff’s Department advised people who live at a safe distance to stay indoors to avoid exposure to smoke.

Marengo is about 80 miles (129 kilometers) east of Des Moines.