European incidents

Roland Mill

This incident occurred on the 6th Jan 1979 in Bremen, Germany. The mill complex comprised two buildings connected by a linking bridge, enclosed on all 4 sides, which carried 3 belt conveyors. Unusually the incident did not start inside the process. It appeared that a fire started in a sample room, in the basement of one building, and propagated up through broken ceilings to the second floor level. The cause of the initial fire was not established. At second floor level, a powerful dust explosion took place, probably because flour was released from equipment damaged by fire, or the convection currents from the fire lifted dust deposits in the area. Extensive building damage in this area was caused by the first explosion.

The dust explosion propagated through the bridge, causing parts of the sidewalls to be blown out. When the explosion reached the second building, a further explosion occurred. This may have been fuelled by loose deposits, or by flour released from paper bags. Further explosions involved various compartments of a silo complex and on three floors of the second building. When the disaster was over, there were 14 people killed, 17 injured and damage estmated at DM 100M


A grain storage complex in the French town of Metz was the scene of a terrible disaster on the 18th October 1982. Le Figaro reported at the time After clearing debris for 24 hours the toll is now known: four dead, one seriously injured and eight missing , they could possibly still be alive buried under many tons of beams and cement. A spark from a blow torch could have caused the catastrophe The concrete silos were 70m tall, held barley, and 4 out of 10 cells in the complex were seriously damaged.


A summary of the explosion at a grain terminal at Blaye on the French Atlantic coast which killed 11 people in 1997 can be found in English from Ineris, the French government research institute.