July 30, 1957

Both the North and South walls of the Sunfield Elevator were blown out by the explosion Tuesday, July 30, which injured four men. The picture at left shows the rear, or north wall which fell atop a truck parked nearby. In the right hand picture spectators look over the gaping hole and fallen debris created when the south wall fell.  Most seriously injured was Arlin Stambaugh, Sunfield Welder who was working about one third of the way up the structure. Stambaugh suffered burns on 70 percent of his body. His condition was termed serious.

                                         Four Hurt in Sunfield Elevator Explosion Tuesday 
Two men were severely injured and rushed to the Charlotte Hospital shortly before noon Tuesday, July 30,  and two others suffered less serious injuries, when an explosion blew two concrete block walls out of the Sunfield Elevator.

Arlin Stambaugh, 32,  Sunfield welding  shop operator, suffered first and second degree burns over 70 percent of his body, when his welding torch ignited wheat dust in the elevator causing the explosion.  Larry Bower, 45, rural Portland farmer, suffered multiple facial lacerations and concussion when he was struck by falling debris as he waited near the elevator, while his pick-up truck was being unloaded.

Eaton County Deputies Ken Ward and Phil Green reported that the explosion occurred while Stambaugh was welding shut a hole in the downspout on the second floor of the elevator.  The torch apparently ignited wheat dust. Both North and South walls of the structure were blown out. Stambaugh's clothing was set on fire, and although it continued to burn and smolder, he made his way to the ground.

Lynn Peabody, 50, of Sunfield, rushed to Stambaugh's aid, throwing him to the ground, ripping off his burning clothes and extinguishing the flames.  Peabody suffered burns on both hands while doing this. Also injured was Milford Moore, RFD 1, Vermontville, who suffered a concussion from the explosion. Both Peabody and Moore were treated by a Sunfield Doctor, while Stambaugh and Bower were taken to the hospital after receiving first aid.

Officers of the Ionia State Police post were rushed to the scene, and assisted in policing the site. Officers of the State Fire Marshals Division investigated.

Theo Lennon, president and manager of the Sunfield Elevator Co., reported the accident occurred about 11:10 a.m.. He said Stambaugh had been called in to repair the hole discovered earlier in the downspout leading from the headhouse, atop the structure, to one of the bins. Sunfield residents reported that the explosion rocked buildings throughout the community. It is believed that only the fact that most of the silos in the elevator were filled with wheat prevented more serious destruction. A number of area farmers escaped injury when the concrete walls came thundering to the ground. Bower's truck was badly damaged by falling blocks. The Sunfield Fire Department rushed to the elevator on a stand-by basis should fire break out. The explosion snuffed out most of the fire. Loss was estimated as high as $15,000.

A report from the hospital Wednesday, gave the condition of Arlin Stambaugh as fair and that the condition of Larry Bower, who was found to be the most seriously injured, was fair and was resting well at the present time.
Photo and article submitted by: Meriah Crow

The Sunfield Sentinel

Sunfield,Michigan                                                                                                                                                     Thursday, August 8, 1957 


Friday afternoon this community was saddened when Arlin C. Stambaugh, 32, passed away in the Hayes Green Beach hospital at Charlotte from severe burns suffered in an explosion at the Sunfield Farmers Elevator company Tuesday, July 30. 


Mr. Stambaugh received his injuries when he was welding on a silo about 20 feet above ground level when the blast occurred. It is believed that the welding torch ignited wheat dust and caused the explosion.


Arlin was born April 21, 1925 in Sebewa township, the son of John and Greta Stambaugh. He was a graduate of Sunfield High School and was a life resident of this area. On November 5, 1944 he was united in marriage to Carmen Fry. Arlin and his father operated Pop's Shop where they did machine work and welding, on Main Street in Sunfield. He was a member of the Sunfield, Sebewa and Danby fire departments, and a Cub-master for the Cub Scouts.


Surviving are his widow, Carmen; two sons, Harold and Dale, both at home; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Stambaugh of Sunfield; two sisters, Mrs. Virginia Karrar of Sunfield and Mrs. Vivian Eastman of R3 Lake Odessa, and his grandfather, D. C. Ingall of Sunfield. Also several nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.


The Rev. Joseph Vander Veen of the Sunfield United Brethren church officiated at the funeral service held in the Mapes Funeral Home, Sunday afternoon at three o'clock. Burial was made in East Sebewa cemetery. Members of the Sunfield, Sebewa and Danby Fire Department were the casketbearers.

(additional article was found with additional information)



The Sunfield Sentinel

Sunfield,Michigan                                                                                                                                                          August 1, 1957 Page 1



About 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sunfield was rocked by an explosion at the Sunfield Farmers Elevator on Main Street which injured three persons and approximately $25,000 worth of damage was done. the blast is believed to be caused by a welder's torch when it touched off an accumulation of dust in the silo.


Arlin Stambaugh, a local welder, was repairing a steel changeover chute near the top of a silo when the blast occurred. He suffered second degree burns over 80 percent of his body. After the explosion, Arlin climbed down a ladder to the second floor landing by himself. Lynn Peabody, employee of the elevator who was working in that area, immediately torn the burning clothing from Arlin's body bare-handed. Mr. Peabody's hands were badly burned.


Larry Bowers, a farmer from R.1 Portland who was a customer at the elevator, received multiple lacerations about the head and face from falling debris.


All three persons were taken to Dr. Nathan Joseph's office in Sunfield for treatment. Arlin and Larry were then rushed by ambulance to Hayes Green Beach Hospital in Charlotte. At the doctor's office were three local nurses who came over to assist Dr. Joseph as soon as they heard of the accident. They were Mrs. Ray Cole, Mrs. Gordon Taylor and Kathryn Grommons. Arlin's condition at press time was reported just "fair". Larry Bowers is under observation at the hospital.


The Sunfield Fire Department was called to the scene and helped clear away debris and stood by in case of fire.


It was reported that the top of the silo was blown five feet in the air. The cement wall in the main part of the building was blown out. A pick-up truck parked near the entrance was crushed from falling cement blocks.


Work started later on the same day to repair the damage. Theo Lenon, manager of the elevator, said business is being carried on as usual.


In 1952, the elevator was hit by fire which destroyed most of the main building. The loss was estimated at $75,000.


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