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GIBSON CITY - A steel grain storage facility at a Gibson City elevator collapsed Saturday morning, spilling a million bushels of grain onto an adjacent parking lot and knocking over several rail cars.

"We're not sure what caused it at this time, but I would say it had to do with the rapid drop in temperature," said Doug Childers, Cargill AgHorizons farm service group leader. "It was almost 60 degrees two days ago, and now it's about 2 degrees. That can cause stress on the steel."

No one was working at the Cargill elevator when one of the four storage facilities collapsed around 8:20 a.m.

"All the corn is salvageable, we just have to figure out how to move it safely," Childers said.

Eight employees were surveying the damage around 1 p.m. The collapsed facility was located between two others, and the spilled corn was piled against their outer walls.

"That's part of the reason we have engineers coming to look at it (the facility). They're going to develop a plan so there's no further damage," he said.

Childers said the elevator was built in 1968 and has 10 full-time employees. It can hold 4.5 million bushels of grain. Most of the grain is shipped to New Orleans to be exported.

No damage or clean up estimates were available Saturday.

"We'll be here most of the weekend, I'm sure," Childers said.

Elgin farmer John Gyorr and his family were traveling back home Saturday afternoon when they saw the pile of spilled corn.

"I've seen a 20,000 bushel-er rip out the side, but nothing like this," he said. "The steel must have contracted."

Gyorr, who grows corn and soybeans, was snapping photos to take back to an 85-year-old man who works at the suburban grain elevator he uses.

"This is just unreal," added his wife, Connie Gyorr.


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