Explosions, fire rock local mill
By LPR Staff
A series of explosions threatened the Livengood Feeds mill in downtown Lockhart last week.
For most of Thursday evening and Friday, smoke billowed from the mill and emergency workers shut down traffic on adjoining streets, including Highway 183.
Two mill workers, Jose Tristan and Ascencion Martinez sustained burn i
njuries in the initial blast. Both men were able to walk from the building and were later transported to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, emergency officials on the scene said.
Employees evacuated the mill after the first explosion, which was believed to generate in the mill”s basement. Firefighters entered the building to extinguish the flames, but later had to be evacuated after a second explosion.
Throughout the evening, Lockhart firefighters were assisted by crews from the Luling, Chisholm Trail, and San Marcos fire departments, along with both volunteer and off-duty crews from Lockhart.
Despite the availability of manpower, Lockhart Fire Chief Jerry Doyle ordered firefighters to remain clear of the building, fearing another flash fire and questioning the stability of the building.
“The only way to fight the fire right now is either by going inside or by making a hole [in the mill”s tower],” Doyle said. “Either way, we run the risk of the fire flashing on us again and possibly hurting one of our firefighters or worse.”
After mill owner Burt Livengood arrived on the scene, firefighters used high-powered water cannons to douse the upper levels of the mill where grain smoldered throughout the evening.
Finally, after several hours, firefighters entered the mill via a catwalk near the grain silos. The crew was able to extinguish the smoldering grain in a relatively short time.
In a statement released by Livengood Feeds on Friday, Livengood noted that, although production in the Lockhart facility was shut down, it would not delay the delivery of feed products to the mill”s statewide customers.
“Our main concern is the full and quick recovery of the two dedicated workers who were completing their shift when the accident occurred,” he said. “
He also stated that the mill”s other 15 employees were back at work in Livengood”s other production facility in Lockhart.
The statement continued to say that operations at the mill might resume in a matter of days, after he and other officials had the opportunity to survey the damage to the property.
He estimates that most of the damage was contained to the mill”s tin walls and roof, but that some of the raw grain and equipment used in the manufacturing process may have sustained water damage.
“We are very fortunate that only two of our workers were involved, and they are receiving the best possible treatment and are expected to recover quickly,” Livengood said. “I couldn”t be more proud of the rest of our workers, who have all pitched in to make sure that we can continue to meet the needs of all our loyal customers.”