Gordy Oftedahl gestured toward what was left of the Globe Elevator in Superior, WI — a pile of charred timber sticking through the snow and a 150-foot steel tower, its frame warped by heat.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that Oftedahl had been slowly removing pieces of white pine and white oak from the 181 year-old structure — once the largest grain elevator in the world — and selling them to carpenters and artists for about $1 per board foot.
But on the afternoon of Dec. 17, the crew tasked with removing wood from the elevator struck a nail or other metal object, causing sparks to fly and igniting a fire.
Oftedahl said within five minutes the elevator — which had sat on that point since 1887 — was engulfed in flames.
"It was really devastating," Oftedahl told the Duluth News Tribune.