Galena Park, TX Grain Elevator Explosion, Feb 1976
6 KILLED IN GRAIN ELEVATOR BLAST; HUNT FOR MORE VICTIMS ONGOING.
Galena Park, Tex. (AP) -- Firemen and rescue crews searched today for more victims at the site of a waterfront grain elevator explosion which left at least six persons dead and another 25 injured.
Several victims were believed buried Sunday under broken concrete and twisted steel.
"We are certain we will find others dead but we don't know how many," said Paul Carr, a Houston Fire Department spokesman. "It may be a couple of days before we can dig down and find the others.
They may be buried under 60 feet of rubble."
Officials said they were uncertain how many were in the area at the time of the early afternoon blast.
The blast blew out "almost all the glass in downtown Galena Park," said one official, and police were pestered by looters who took advantage
of broken shop windows. Debris was hurled over a broad waterfront area along the Houston Ship Channel.
Firemen blamed the explosion -- heard 10 miles away in industrial Pasadena -- on grain dust possibly ignited by a welder's torch. Grain dust is highly combustible.
Carr said a welding crew was working in the area at the time. "We can't account for them and think they must be under the rubble," he said. "Their trucks and equipment are totally destroyed and under those rocks."
Five bodies were found Sunday and a sixth man died at a hospital.
Three of the dead were identified as W. L. HENDRY, DELBERT PAYNE, 46, and LARRY LOPEZ, 9, son of one of the injured men. Another man was in critical condition.
Truitt Kennedy, executive vice-president of Goodpasture Inc., owner of the elevator, estimated damage at $50 million.
The explosion and fires threatened briefly the numerous petroleum and chemical plants along the busy Houston Ship Channel, Coast Guardsmen said. Two fireboats went to the scene to quench pier fires.
Galena Park is nearly surrounded by Houston.
Firemen worked through the night, wading knee deep through spilled grain and pouring water on stubborn but contained fires. Heavy equipment was moved into the area to remove rubble.
The force of the explosion gouged out chunks of concrete and steel, heaving them into smaller storage tanks nearby which burst into flames.
The main grain elevator is approximately 500 yards long and 100 feet tall. About half of it was destroyed.
After the explosion which came during a grain loading operation, three ships docked near the elevator were towed into the ship channel to avoid fires. One of them, the Greek cargo ship Silver Ocean, suffered minor damage the Coast Guard reported.
Houston is one of the nation's leading grain ports, but this was the first major explosion and fire ina a number of years.
The Lima News Ohio 1976-02-23
SEARCH FOR BODIES CONTINUES AT DEMOLISHED ELEVATOR.
Galena Park, Tex. (AP) -- Searchers sifted through tons of concrete and steel rubble today looking for two men believed to have been killed in a grain elevator explosion that left seven known dead.
The bodies of seven persons who died in the Sunday blast at the massive Goodpasture Inc. grain elevator have been recovered.
Three other persons remained hospitalized with injuries suffered in the explosion that caused an estimated $50 million in damages.
A grain fire touched off by the explosion that hurled debris several hundred yards continued to smolder late Monday.
Truitt Kennedy, executive vice president and general manager of Goodpasture, made the $50 million loss estimate which includes about $20 million worth of spoiled and burned grain.
More than half of the 1,800-foot long, 130-foot high Houston Ship Channel elevator was leveled. Kennedy said there would be no effort to salvage the elevator, but that it would have to be rebuilt.
Authorities said two persons were still missing and believed to have died in the explosion. They are ROBERTO DE LA ROSA, 30, a lab worker for Houston Merchants Exchange, and ROBERT BLACK, 32, a Goodpasture employe.
A seventh body, that of CARL W. BOOZER, 46, of Pasadena, was found early Monday and investigators identified a body found Sunday night as that of W. J. POLLEY, 38, of Houston. POLLEY
was a Goodpasture maintenance man and BOOZER was a grain inspector for Houston Merchants Exchange.
Other bodies identified were those of LARRY LAWRENCE LOPEZ, 9, of Channellview, son of a Goodpasture employe; DELBERT PAYNE, 46; JOSE E. GARZA, 37, JESUS LEAL, 36, all of Galena Park and Goodpasture employes; and WILLIAM L. HENDRY, 58, of Houston, an exporting
Big Spring Herald Texas 1976-02-24
VICTIM OF EXPLOSION IS FOUND.
Houston (UPI) -- A rescue crew carefully searching through tons of broken concrete and grain Tuesday located the eighth victim of an explosion which ripped the Goodpasture Inc. grain elevator plant.
The body was identified as ROBERTO DE LA ROSA, according to a Goodpasture official. DE LA ROSA, 30, and ROBERT BLACK, 32, had been missing since the Sunday afternoon blowup. BLACK, a maintenance man for Goodpasture, still was missing. DE LA ROSA was a lab worker for Houston Merchants Exchange.
For two days, bulldozers partly cleared the blast site but avoided two crumbling sections of a 10 story, bombed-out elevator structure.
Fire flared sporadically in the buildings. Water from three pumper trucks and a fireboat poured water on them.
Although it was believed at least one more victim would be found, officials had not determined the cause of the blast which occurred at the plant which borders the Houston Ship Channel in suburban Galena Park.
Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz said when the city takes up the question of annexing the ship channel
area next year, fire protection of the ship channel industries should be considered.
Under a 10-year contract which ends this year, the industries paid the city fees in liou of taxes. The fees, which totaled $3.1 million last year, gave industries a tax break as an inducement for locating there. But the fee, according to the city, did not cover fire protection.
Galveston Daily News Texas 1976-02-25