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David Sparks Ph.d Hog Explosion
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: September 06, 2018

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Leon Sheets heard a “WHOOM” and a “BOOM” before a fire ball engulfed him, burning 20 percent of his body and melting his glasses.

“The first couple days in the hospital you’re asking when can you get up and go, and they’re talking, ‘I don’t know if you’ll be back doing your career or not, Leon,’” said the Ionia, Iowa, hog farmer. “That’s sobering.”


The dangers of methane gas are one of the topics featured in the new Telling the Story Project (www.tellingthestoryproject.org/), in which farmers and families affected by injuries and close calls tell stories with prevention messages.


Sheets, selected America’s Pig Farmer of the Year in 2017, had been pressure washing his swine finishing building and inadvertently released methane gas into the air when spray broke foam bubbles on the manure beneath the slatted floor. The pilot light on an LP heater provided ignition.


“On a whim ... I looked at the washer and said, ‘I will take this washer, make a couple three passes, and I’m out.’ I wasn’t at it very long when all of a sudden there was a ball of fire and a loud ‘kaboom.’ I really couldn’t see, the door blew open, and drastic changes happened in my life,” said Sheets, who has endured skin grafts and other follow-up.


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