Corpus Christi, TX Grain Elevator Blast, Apr 1981
THREE DEAD, THREE MISSING IN ELEVATOR EXPLOSION.
Corpus Christi, Texas (AP) -- Bulldozers and a huge crane began removing massive chunks of concrete and twisted metal today in the wake of a grain elevator explosion which killed 3, injured 32 and left 3 persons missing.
The Tuesday afternoon explosion and fires ripped the top off several silos at the Corpus Christi Public Grain Elevator at the city's seaport, on Texas' middle Gulf coast.
Acting Fire Chief E. E. Irwin said today several small fires still were burning on the catwalk of the elevator tower and also in the damaged silos, which hold the grain.
However, he said, "We think the fires are mainly on the roof sections and on the conveyor belt. As far as we know the grain that is still down in the silos is OK."
Irwin said many of the damaged silos were empty or half full when the explosion occurred.
Traffic was normal on the Corpus Christi ship channel.
Eight trucks hauled in parts of a crane about dawn and its assembly took about a half day.
Irwin said it would be used to fight the fires as well as move debris in the search for the missing persons.
"As soon as we get the crane going, we can put some of our people in the basket and raise them to where these fires are still burning," Irwin said.
"That's the only way we'll get them out."
"That structure (elevator) just can't hold people. There are no floors left."
He said 50 firefighters kept watch on the smoldering fire overnight to prevent any other explosions, which was caused by an accumulation of grain dust, authorities said.
Shortly after dawn, fresh crews and about 20 employees arrived to begin sifting through the debris, clearing away huge chunks of concrete, mangled metal supports, glass and rubbish lying around the area.
One of the missing was a guard, an elevator spokesman said. He arrived about 10 minutes before the blast. One of his first duties was to check the controls and safety equipment on the basement level. It is thought the blast originated here.
Eighteen of the injured remained in Memorial Hospital today, said spokeswoman Kay White. Six were in critical condition, one in poor condition, and 11 in fair condition. Seven of the victims were in the burn unit, she added.
She said 12 others had been treated and released.