One of the men, John Jentz of St. Peter, MN clearly remembers the explosion at the ConAgra grain bin: “I heard the bang. I heard the rushing of the air, and the fireball,” he said. Jentz’s co-worker, Robert Schmidt, was riding down a single-lift hoist when the explosion occurred. “It was probably the third boom when I realized that an explosion was happening, and I just froze–I knelt down and started praying,” Schmidt said. “I thought, ‘This is it, I am going to die.'”
Chicago attorney Robert Clifford, who represented Jentz and Schmidt, said there had been signs of trouble in the grain bin before the explosion, such as temperature readings of up to 400 degrees. Clifford asserted that grain bin operators ignored safety problems because they were trying to maximize use of the product. “It was either because they didn’t want to close down the facility, or they were trying to save the product that they were trying to extract so that they could resell it,” he said.