10 Most Devastating Fires and Explosions in U.S. History

http://digital.lib.uh.edu/u?/p15195coll4,3, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

8. The S.S. Grandcamp and Monsanto Chemical Company Plant Explosion

On the morning of April 16, 1947, the French-owned SS Grandcamp was at the port of Texas City unloading a consignment of ammonium nitrate fertilizer when the crew noticed some smoke coming from the cargo area. The area of the fire happened to be next to 2,300 tons of the fertilizer, so when that was ignited, the resulting explosion could be heard as far as 150 miles (240 km) away.

The disaster didn’t end there as the fires caused by the explosion quickly destroyed the dock and spread to the nearby Monsanto Chemical Company plant and destroyed that too. The resulting mushroom cloud that blew out of the destroyed plant not only rose to a staggering 2,000 feet (600 meters) into the air but managed to take out two passing planes. Between 400 and 600 people were killed, with as many as 4,000 injured.

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