SILVERTON — A dust explosion likely caused a fire at a seed cleaning facility Tuesday near Silverton, killing one worker and injuring another, according to authorities.

Ed Grambusch, assistant chief of the Silverton Fire District, said the victim was a man in his 30s. He has not yet been identified. A second worker was also taken to an area hospital with injuries not considered life threatening.

The fire was reported shortly after 9 a.m. at Riches Seeds. Upon arrival, Grambusch said flames and heavy dark smoke were showing from the roof of the two-story building.

Managers on site told firefighters that one person was still on the second floor. Crews were able to get the fire under control in about an hour, Grambusch said. The man was found dead inside. His name is being withheld until next of kin are notified.

While Grambusch said investigators still do not know what the ignition source was, they are pretty sure a dust explosion is what caused the fire. Dust explosions can be a hazard in seed plants and grain silos, occurring when fine particles in the air combust in a massive fireball.

Grambusch said the building was destroyed, with damages totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. A message left with Riches Seeds was not immediately returned.

Silverton Fire responded with five engines and four water tenders. It was assisted by neighboring fire and ambulance districts in Stayton, Sublimity, Mt. Angel, Woodburn, Molalla, Monitor and Marion County.

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