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Leaning silo leaning no more

January 27, 2006|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A grain silo that has been in danger of falling over for about three months did so Wednesday evening, spilling hundreds of tons of corn across Oellig Road in Peters Township.

The blue steel silo at Stoner's Hijos Hill Inc. farm collapsed at about 6:15 p.m., said John Stoner. He was not there at the time, but said his brother David was nearby and heard the crash.

"He and his wife heard it and said, 'It must be the silo.' It was too loud to be anything else," Stoner said Thursday as his brother used a front-end loader to scoop up some of the 25,000 to 30,000 bushels of corn that poured out when the silo ripped open at the seams.

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"We're going to salvage part of it," Stoner said of the corn. At 60 pounds a bushel, Stoner estimated the silo could have contained 900 to 1,000 tons of corn. The silo itself, he said, was about 90 feet tall and probably weighed 60 tons.

The collapse of the silo resolved a problem that has kept Oellig Road closed since around Thanksgiving. Tim Stoner, president of Stoner Hijos Hill Inc., said earlier this month that was when the silo began tilting.

The silo could not safely be unloaded and Tim Stoner said at the time that they had not figured out a way to safely bring the structure down, other than waiting for gravity to do its job.

Tim Stoner said the problem might have been the result of an air pocket in the corn, which resulted in unequal pressure against the cylindrical wall of the silo. He said the silo was about 30 years old.

When the silo fell, it struck the silo immediately to its north, denting it near the top and twisting the steel ladder on the side.

"We can't climb up that now," John Stoner said. He said the extent of the damage to the other silo had not been determined.

"We'll have to get some people out here to analyze it," he said.

Stoner said he was amazed the silo fell over without hitting power lines on the opposite side of the road. On hitting the ground, the roof and top section of the silo went under the wires coming to rest in a crumpled heap several yards to the east of the road.

As was the case when the silo was tilting, the collapsed structure drew the interest of area residents and passers-by who stopped to look at the sight.

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