The Missoula Fire Department responded to a call Wednesday afternoon for a report of a person trapped in a silo and buried to his neck in sand at a concrete business on the city's Northside.
Firefighters arrived at 1700 Rodgers St. with two ladder trucks and three engines at 2:43 p.m., according to a news release. The male victim was about 25 feet below the only entrance to the silo, which was a small manhole near the top.
The technical rescue team was able to develop a plan using a high point pulley system to access the victim by lowering a rescuer with ropes to attach the victim to a harness, the release said. While suspended on ropes, the rescuer used large-diameter vacuum hoses extended from two public works vacuum trucks to remove sand from around the victim.
“There was constant concern throughout the rescue, and measures taken to keep the existing sand from inside the silo from sloughing off and burying the victim completely,” the news release said.
Fire Chief Jeff Brandt believes the worker was on top of the silo doing maintenance work at Hunton Pre-Cast Concrete Inc. when he accidentally fell into the sand, he said.
After about 2½ hours, the rescue team was able to free the victim from the sand and hoist him via harness into a small interior entrance inside the silo 25 feet above where he was trapped.