Anniversary of a disaster: Remembering the Texas explosion that killed hundreds in April 1947

  • Source: KVUE-TV ABC 24 Austin
  • Published: 04/19/2024 12:00 AM

VIDEO: April 16 is a day still remembered in Texas City – the day of an unimaginable disaster. It happened during prosperous times for the growing oil, shipping and chemical industry in Galveston County in 1947. Texas City was a growing town of 16,000 where many of the residents worked at chemical and petroleum plants that had sprouted up along the ship channel during World War II. In mid-April 1947, a French freighter, the Grand Camp, docked at Texas City to take on a heavy load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. But as longshoremen loaded the ship on April 16, the smell of smoke filled the air. A small fire had broken out deep inside the Grand Camp. The captain ordered that steam be used to smother the fire, which created a brightly colored smoke that drew people to the dock to watch. Then the unimaginable happened: an explosion so powerful that it was heard 210 miles away in Louisiana.


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