Ten to 15 people injured in a December 8 explosion at a Marengo, Iowa fuel plant are being treated for trauma and burn injuries at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, according to the hospital. One of the five patients transported by ambulance to the state’s only Level 1 trauma center is said to have sustained severe injuries.
The explosion occurred around 11:15 am at a C6-Zero plant in the 800 block of East South Street in Marengo, about 30 miles northwest of Iowa City near the Iowa County Fairgrounds. C6-Zero uses a process that extracts petroleum from asphalt shingles to produce fuel. The process also produces fiberglass and aggregate.
Thirty people were inside the building when the explosion occurred. A fire that followed the blast burned for more than 10 hours while more than 100 firefighters from surrounding communities sought to contain it. Plumes of black smoke could be seen five miles from the fire, according to news reports. The Iowa State Patrol told local media that wind and chemical concerns prompted an evacuation order for the residential areas near the plant.
Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the explosion.
A Troubled Past
The building is owned by Heartland Crush LLC which purchased the property in 2017 to operate it as a soybean processing facility. But the following year, a district court appointed the Iowa Department of Agriculture as the receiver of the business because the company had failed to obtain a grain license.
At the time, the business went into receivership it owed $1.1 million for unpaid grain and had to negotiate payments with all the grain sellers, according to the Des Moines Register. In 2020, the company narrowly avoided foreclosure.
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