Wanda English Burnett
An explosion at the Versailles Laughery Valley Ag Co-op shop
left the immediate area and surrounding community wondering
what had produced the noise. The thick rolling black smoke could
be seen for miles on Friday, November 19 about 1 p.m.
Lois Warfield saw the explosion unfold as she sat in her home
just across from the co-op located on US 421 just South of Versailles.
I heard a noise and the sides of the building just bulged
and everything flew up in the air, Lois told the Osgood
Journal. She saw the employees running from the building falling
to the graveled parking area in front of the building. I
just knew someone was hurt, she said.
It all seemed to happen about the same time, according to Lois,
who was a first hand witness to the scene. I think Ill
see that for a long time, she said.
It shook this house, her husband, Tom, noted. He
said the house rumbled as several shots similar
to gunfire were heard following the initial blast.
Later the Warfields would find out that the explosion was accidental.
But, at first, they said many thoughts went through their heads.
Theyve lived in the house adjacent to the co-op for as
many years as its been there and say theyve always known
there could be risks.
Versailles Fire Chief Ben Sieverding said a propane tank was
accidentally knocked over with the top coming loose, allowing
the propane to escape. The shop building was completely destroyed
and the office sustained heavy damage.
Sieverding said no one was injured in the blast and felt that
was an act of God. Were really fortunate here today,
he told the Osgood Journal.
The Versailles firemen were assisted by three additional fire
companies - New Marion, Osgood and Friendship - with more than
40 firemen responding. Their goal was to keep the fire from
spreading to area building and a huge propane tank located in
close proximity to the explosion.
The black, thick smoke could be seen for miles and even had
school children at South Ripley Elementary wondering what had
happened. Buses had to be re-routed for students in the area
for their home-bound commute. Officers from the Indiana State
Police and Ripley County Sheriff's Office re-directed traffic
around the scene until it was safe for motorists to pass through.
Ripley County Emergency Management Agency Director Wayne Peace
was on the scene and told the Osgood Journal there was no chemical
run off from the explosion. Peace said the fire was so hot it
melted the office chairs and even the antenna. He said the blast
happened in a north east pattern. Peace echoed the fire chiefs
comment about the employees being fortunate.
Are my parents okay? was the first thought that
raced through Amy Zollers mind. She rushed home to find
her parents, Tom and Lois Warfield, in good shape, though a
little shaken. Tom admitted, It was scary, especially
when they didnt know what had happened.
Even though one building was completely destroyed and the office
heavily damaged, employees at the co-op know they are more than
a little lucky to have escaped with their lives.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
ABOVE: Over 40 firemen from four departments
were on the scene at the Versailles Laughery Valley Ag
Co-op Friday afternoon for several hours after an initial
explosion leveled the above building. In the immediate
background is a large propane tank firemen were successful
in keeping from igniting. RIGHT: Lois Warfield, saw the
whole thing as she sat at her window seat inside her home
located just across from the co-op on US 421. She was
talking with her son on the phone at the time and says
she'll see that scene in her head for a long time to come.