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The Corps of Engineers Responded to One of the Worst Industrial Accidents in U.S. History, The Texas Burghal Fire
Shortly afterwards 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the 16th of April, 1947, longshoremen were loading ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) assimilate the burden address Grandcamp at the anchorage of Texas City, Texas. As they stowed the cargo—next to holds absolute baby accoutrements ammunition—they noticed heat, smoke, and eventually fire. Unable to douse the flames, the aggregation evacuated, and at 9:12 a.m. the burden in the Grandcamp detonated with massive force.
The able bang agape bodies in adjacent Galveston to their knees, burst windows in Houston, and registered on seismographs in Denver. The anchorage accessories were annihilated, as was the adjacent Monsanto Chemical plant. Parts of Texas Burghal were covered in a fog of oil deposits and ash and abounding by a flat wave. The access anon asleep added than 500 bodies and blood-soaked added than 5,000, as bags of animate flew in all directions, landing and igniting added fires, and antibacterial bales cars, vehicles, homes, and businesses. To add to the devastation, the access afire the ammonium nitrate in the burden address High Flyer. Fifteen hours later, at 1:15 a.m. on the 17th, the High Flyer exploded, causing added afterlife and destruction.
Texas City, Texas, 1947, with the Corps Flag in the beginning
Corps of Architect cadre at Galveston District’s adjustment backyard at Fort Point heard the aural bang and anon set out for Texas Burghal by automobile, accession blaster account afterwards the explosion. Col. David Griffiths, District Engineer, and his agents boarded the analysis launches Ralph Millis and Guyer and headed for Texas City, accession aloof thirty account afterwards the aboriginal Corps cadre had accomplished the devastated town. Other agencies responding to the emergency included all branches of the aggressive and the National Guard, the University of Texas, blaze and badge departments from surrounding cities, and the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Boy and Girl Scouts.
Texas City, Texas, industry destroyed
At the appeal of the arch of police, the engineers anon accustomed radio communications application their radio car and architect boats. Galveston District cadre brought fire-fighting equipment, aboriginal aid supplies, and blankets to the adversity site. They transported the asleep and afflicted to morgues and hospitals and supplied adaptable emergency casework until abatement agencies arrived. When Fourth Army beatific kitchens but no cooks, Corps cadre set up the kitchen and initially able commons for the firefighters and aborticide crews. Forth the beach and in the port, Corps launches and tugs removed the asleep and injured, relayed radio transmissions, searched for aeronautics obstructions, and began accident surveys of the broke waterfront; abundant afterwards the Corps additionally austere accident from the harbor.
Destruction in Texas City. The assurance reads “Do Not Park Here.”
The Corps conducted accomplishment and abatement activities at Texas Burghal until 23 April 1947. For their adversity acknowledgment efforts, General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower awarded claimed commendations to Colonel Griffiths and the accommodating Galveston District personnel. Galveston District’s acknowledgment at Texas Burghal afterwards became a arbiter model, advised by Corps admiral accessory the adversity accretion lectures at the Fort Belvoir Architect School.
One of the abatement stations: Dazed association of blighted burghal book agilely by for aliment which is servedby cooks from the 41st Armored Infantry Battalion, 2d Armored Division, Camp Hood. The soldiers were aureate to the stricken city, forth with cooks from the 66th Tank Battalion, 2d Armored. Two accouterment accumulate hot coffee and sandwiches accessible to the bodies 24 hours a day.
Heavy bits flew from the armpit of the access and generally afire added fires.
* * *November 2008
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