Texas City, TX Disaster - Explosion and Fire, Apr 1947

Wreckage, Texas City, Texas Disaster, April 16, 1947 Ruins, Texas City, Texas Disaster, April 16, 1947 4 Ruins, Texas City, Texas Disaster, April 16, 1947 2 View Across the Bay Aerial View Troops evacuating civilians Ruins, Texas City, Texas Disaster, April 16, 1947 Searching for Bodies, Texas City, Texas 1947

Residential District Escapes
The buildings seemed to be burned down, and fires were still blazing.
A refinery west of the tracks was also burning. Several oil tanks were blazing brightly. A few tanks were crumpled by the force of the blast.

The city's residential section did not seem to be touched. One large building on the south side of town had its roof blown in.

"Bodies can be picked up by the dozen in the first area, but you cannot get in to them," E. A. BOEHLER, Houston city policeman, said.

MRS. JOHN ANDREWS, chief nurse in charge of the first aid station at the Monsanto Chemical Corporation said there had been "lots of dead"but that the smoke and fire kept rescuers away from the bodies and, consequently, it was impossible to get an accurate check on the number of casualties.

Wades in Knee-Deep Oil
MRS. ANDREWS was forced to flee her first aid station, wading in oil up to her knees, because of the fire. She went down into the heart of the city and opened another first aid station.

A Chronicle reporter brushed against a Catholic priest, Father BERGS, who said he was from the East, visiting in Texas City.

"Were you in there giving last rites, Father?" the reporter asked the priest.

"No, they are all dead down there," he said, pointing at the fire.
"I was a chaplain in the first war and I never saw anything like this," he commented.

The fires at the Monsanto plant were still raging this afternoon, hours after the blast, and the screams of some workers, still trapped in the plant, could be heard by the firefighters.

One Monsanto employee estimated that 35 men had been trapped in the plant, and rescue was impossible because of the heat and flames.

Living Wait Dazedly as Dead Are Identified in Flaming Texas City
Bodies Are Stacked In Garage, School.

BY WILLIAM C. BARNARD
TEXAS CITY, April 16 (AP) -“ This tonight is a city of flames, torn steel, and smoking rubble, a city where the dead are uncounted and the living are too dazed and weary to cry.

Scores of bodies of explosion and fire dead are stacked on benches and tables in a brick midtown garage and in the nearby high school gymnasium. Outside these places the people gather in silent, expressionless groups.

Dozens of embalmers are at work in the garage and there the slow process of identification goes on.

Continued on page 4

More Photos of the Texas City Disaster

Comments

My grandfather was present

My grandfather was present when that disaster happened but he was dead when my parents got married. He was working to one of the ships and my grandmother always describe it as a nightmare. After the incident my grandfather can't talk clearly and he also suffered concussion. One year after the incident he died and everytime I heard about Texas Fire, I always remembered him.

Survivors

My dad was six years old at the time of the explosions living several blocks from the explosion. He recalls that my grandmother had just picked up my uncle, who was about 7 months old, out of his high chair when the explosion hit. The windows were blown out on one side and in on the other side. A large piece of glass was embedded in the back of the high chair! If my grandmother had been distracted or waited just a few more minutes to get him out of his high chair my uncle would have been killed and four of my cousins would never have been born.
This disaster left an indelible image on my grandparents and my father's lives.

Dads with PTSD

I am a WWII daughter of a man that came back from the European campaign, inc. the Battle of the Bulge. He was decorated. He came back to work with his father on the docks and railroad. He lost his father that day, and almost lost his leg. He too used alcohol to self medicate as there were no means and diagnosis such as shell shock and he now had my g.mother to care for. I feel your sense of loss for the full life our dads should have led.

Texas City Fire '47

My father was in the Army at the time of the "Texas Fire," stationed in Texas for medic training. He joined the military after World War II, so he had not seen any war action. At this terrible time of emergency, he was only 18-years old; and, his unit was ordered to the docks to help with medical treatment.

Although he would never talk about what happened, my mother told us he was never the same after that terrible disaster. Apparently he told her that one in three people he saw were dead and that what he saw was horrific. With the indelible imprint of seeing indescribable injuries and painful death upon death, he suffered from severe panic attacks and terrible anxiety the rest of his life at a time when there was no diagnosis and no treatment for his crippling disorder. The next year, he had what the military called, "a nervous breakdown" and he left the military. He was ostracized his entire life because his emotional disabilities prevented him from keeping a job. I remember more than once being in the back seat of his car with my brothers when we passed a house fire. My dad would became so upset he had to pull over to try to get control of his emotions so he could take us home.

As a talented musician, singer and extremely intelligent man who could have done anything, he-- a non-drinker-- eventually began to use alcohol to treat his debilitating symptoms himself, and became an alcoholic.

About two years before he died at age 71, a doctor at a V.A. hospital diagnosed dad with post-traumatic stress disorder and related it to the Texas Fire. This man's entire life was affected by this hideous incident. He received no help or treatment from the military, was not supported to re-build his life after the event, and his family received no help, so we grew up very poor. My mom always worked full time and took care of everything. She tried hard to not give up on him because she knew what he went through and what a different person he was before the fire.

His musical "band" of entertainers back then were Jimmy Dean, Roy Clark and others who are classic C/W players. As lead singer and player of all stringed instruments, he could have been called the talent of the group. When they had their big call to NYC, he could not go-- his nerves simply could not take it. This fire destroyed in many ways-- some that are just being discovered. What would it have been like for us to have a "normal" dad who had not been through the experience no 18-year old should ever be around? Or, if this illness could have been treated when he was young, what would he have achieved? We also wonder if the chemical blast had anything to do with the throat and lung cancer he died of. Whenever I hear about this fire, I can only wonder.

Texas City explosion remembered

My parents were married in Austin on April 16, 1947, and many times over the years they mentioned the explosion on that day. Many years later there was a tv special about the Texas City explosion and I understood why it was so ingrained in their memories. A tragic day for so many.