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Today In History - April 16, 1947 - The Texas City Disaster ^ | 4/16/07

Posted on 04/16/2007 6:45:34 AM PDT by MplsSteve

On April 16 1947, the cargo ship SS Grandcamp exploded in the harbor of Texas City Tx.

The Grandcamp was carrying 8.5 million tons of ammonium nitrate, a commonly used fertilizer. The SS Grandcamp was also carrying a cargo of small-arms ammunition.

At 8:10AM, a small fire was reported in the hold of the Grandcamp. A later investigation determined that spontaneous combustion (or a discarded cigarette) was the cause of the fire. Shortly afterwards, the Texas City Fire Department was called to the dock where the Grandcamp was located.

Around 9:00AM, the captain of the Grandcamp oreded that the hull be sprayed with hot steam from the engine room, a fire-fighting procedure at the time.

Unfortunately, the hot steam caused the ammonium nitrate to become more volatile. At this time, the checmicals reached an explosive threshhold of 850 degrees Fahrenheit and detonated in a massive explosion.

The blast caused people in Galveston Tx (10 miles away) to fall down. In Houston Tx (40 miles away), windows were shattered. The shockwave was felt as far away as 250 miles. The 2-ton anchor of the Grandcamp was thrown two miles. A seismologist in Denver initially attributed the shock waves to an atomic bomb detonation in Houston. The explosion caused nearby oil refineries to explode, creating additional fires and casualties.

The explosion also created a mini-tsunami that swept across the Texas City port away, sweeping away smaller buildings and those who may have survived the intial explosion.

The official death toll was 581 - although it was estimated to be higher due to the number of un-recorded workers present at the port. 5000 were injured and 1784 were sent to local hospitals. Of the 581 dead, 113 were obliterated to the point that there were no remains.

Besides terrible destruction to Texas City's port facilities, over 500 homes were destroyed and hundred damaged, leaving thousands homeless. Businesses in the downtown area were destroyed and damaged. Over 1000 vehicles were also destroyed.

TOPICS: History; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: disaster; explosion; texascity
Comments or opinions - anyone?
1 posted on 04/16/2007 6:45:36 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: MplsSteve

—I was six years old and remember it—it marked the beginning of interest in using ammonium nitrate-fuel oil mixtures as commercial explosives—

2 posted on 04/16/2007 6:49:00 AM PDT by rellimpank (-don't believe anything the MSM states about firearms or explosives--NRA Benefactor)
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To: MplsSteve
Comments or opinions - anyone?

Wel, yes ... 8.5 million tons of ammonium nitrate would be about 17 billion pounds. Probably a bit more cargo than any normal ship could carry....

I think the real number is probably 8.5 million pounds?

3 posted on 04/16/2007 6:49:49 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: MplsSteve

There’s a really good book about this called “City on Fire”.

BTW Wasn’t there a second explosion that killed a lot of the rescue workers and fireman who had responsed to the first one?

My son recently left the Texas City Fire Dept. after almost 18 years.

4 posted on 04/16/2007 6:50:39 AM PDT by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: chaosagent

Did you like “City On Fire”?

I had a hard time reading it. Not becaise of the content.

The author’s writing style bothered me. It was disjointed and hard to follow.

5 posted on 04/16/2007 6:54:40 AM PDT by MplsSteve
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To: MplsSteve

Well, it’s been a few years since I read it. I don’t remember having a problem with the style.

As I said I was intrigued by the story since my son was a fireman in Texas City at the time I was reading the book. So I might not have noticed problems with the style.

What amazed me after reading the book was that I knew two people who lived thru the explosion as children and were mentioned in the book. Before then I never knew they were involved.

I thought another good book about the Texas Gulf Coast was “Issac’s Storm”.

It’s about the great Galveston hurricane of 1900 that killed between 6000-10000 people.

6 posted on 04/16/2007 7:24:15 AM PDT by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: rellimpank
For all us History buffs.....

7 posted on 04/16/2007 8:05:33 AM PDT by Robe (Rome did not create a great empire by talking, they did it by killing all those who opposed them)
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