Summary and Reaction to the 1947 Texas Fire Disaster
Summary of the Case
The Texas Fire Disaster which reportedly happened on the 16th of April, 1947 was one of the worst man-inflicted disasters of its time. Investigators were actually unable to pinpoint the real cause of the fire that ensued from one of the holds of the French Liberty ship, the Grandcamp. Subsequent reports supposedly alleged that the fire was caused by an irresponsibly disposed cigarette which ignited inflammable cargo . The ship was disclosed to carry 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and other cargo such as “large balls of sisal twine, peanuts, drilling equipment, tobacco, cotton, and a few cases of small ammunition” . When the smoke apparently started and fire has started to emerge, the captain of the ship was noted to have opted to extinguish the fire without the use of water; which, accordingly, would ruin the cargo. As such, the initial efforts to put out the fire were unsuccessful and paved the way for an explosion to have occurred a little after 9:00 a.m
. The magnanimity of the explosion reportedly caused the following effects: knocking out of two light planes; the disintegration of the bodies of the crew of the ship who were still onboard; the killing of shift workers at the Monsanto plant, right across the ship; shattering of steel and fragments from the ship that showered through the town and extended the casualties to other properties and lives.
ship, the High Flyer; which reportedly exploded at around 1:00 A.M. on 17th April . The ship likewise carried sulfur and thousand tons of the ammonium nitrate fertilizer, similarly carried by the Grandcamp. Although casualties were reportedly lesser, the explosion added to the eventual repercussive destruction of properties and the negative impact to the environment wrought by the thick, black smoke that polluted the air.
The total lives that were lost during this incident were reported to total 405 and as much as 63 who remained unidentified. Likewise, damage to properties were reported to have reached as much as $100 million, or considered $700 million in contemporary value . The impact to the environment was likewise considerable since it was noted that it took several days before the fires were eventually totally extinguished. The impact to the lives of the families who lost loved ones during the fire could never be the same again.
Opinion of the Lesson Learned from the Incident
One is convinced that the lesson learned from the incident was the increased awareness in imposing safety standards and policies for sea-faring vehicles; especially those carrying cargo which could explode or are significantly flammable. Likewise, it came at a period where no government agencies or regulating bodies have prepared standards of safety and policy procedures for emergencies and disasters of this kind. As such, the response was uncoordinated and unstructured, to the point that, further casualties ensued from events which could have been appropriately anticipated and effectively responded to. The incident therefore served as a precedent for lessons on emergency and disaster management and the need to create an emergency response to different scenarios and critical events. If local state agencies could have anticipated the threats and risks posed by the mitigating factors, the number and extent of casualties and damages to properties and lives could have significantly been minimized.
"The Texas City Disaster: April 16, 1947." n.d. local1259iaff.org. http://www.local1259iaff.org/disaster.html. 10 November 2013.
Vega, Karen. "Texas City Disaster." 24 May 2013. prezi.com. http://prezi.com/h4ixp2mqxrwd/texas-city-disaster/. 10 November 2013.