Grain-dust blast injures 4 at Arizona factory

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By FELECIA FONSECA

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Four people were burned Sunday in a grain-dust explosion at a Nestlé Purina plant in the city, authorities said.

The four contractors were welding about 5 p.m. on the fifth floor of the complex's seven-story grain elevator when flames from their torches sparked grain dust and set off the explosion, Flagstaff Fire Department Capt. Bill Morse said.

One man was severely burned and taken by air ambulance to the Arizona Burn Center at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, and another man with severe burns was transported by ground ambulance to the same center, Morse said.

A third man suffered moderate burns and was taken to the Flagstaff Medical Center, while another man with less serious burns was treated and released from the center, Morse said.

On weekends, production is halted in the complex's grain elevator so workers can carry out maintenance projects, he said.

The explosion, which was short and did not produce a long-lasting fire, blew out metal doors at the front of the grain elevator, said Morse, who added that he did not know the name of the contracting company for which the men worked.

Other parts of the Nestlé Purina complex were unaffected by the explosion, Morse said.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration website says grain dust is the main source of fuel for explosions in grain handling.

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