Port Wentworth, GA Sugar Refinery Explosion, Feb 2008
SUGAR REFINERY BLAST KILLS AT LEAST 4 WORKERS.
Port Wentworth, Ga. (AP) - Volatile
dust was blamed Friday in an explosion that leveled a sugar refinery, and crews pulled four bodies from tunnels beneath the mangled mass of metal and beams left by the blast.
At least four people known to be inside during the explosion were missing. Savannah police Sgt. Mike Wilson said no attempts would be made to find more bodies until today, when heavy equipment will be brought in to remove debris.
Search efforts were slowed by the instability of what was left of the refinery, gutted by flames and wracked by the impact of the blast itself.
Anxious families of the night-shift workers at the Imperial Sugar plant gathered at the parish hall of a Catholic Church across the street and wept as officials relayed grim news from the plant.
Investigators were unable to determine what sparked the overnight explosion as fire-fighters battled flames inside the vast refinery - a network of warehouses, silos and buildings eight stories tall connected by corridors of sheet metal.
Imperial President and CEO John Sheptor said sugar dust in a silo where refined sugar was stored before being packaged likely ignited like gunpowder. Sugar dust can become combustible if it's too dry and builds up a static electric charge.
The result was as devastating as a bomb. Floors inside the plant collapsed, flames spread throughout
the refinery, metal girders buckled into twisted heaps and shredded sheet metal littered the wreckage.
"There was fire all over the building," said Nakishya Hill, a machine operator who escaped from the third floor of the refinery uninjured but for blisters on her elbow.
"All I know is, I heard a loud boom and everything came down," Hill said.
Brownsville Herald Texas 2008-02-09
This is a partial list of the fatalities of the refinery blast:
MICHAEL KELLY FIELDS, 40.
ERIC BARNES, 56.
TRUITT E. BYERS, 54.
SHELATHIA HARVEY, 31.
EARL JOHNSON, 56.
EARL QUARTERMAN, SR., 55.
BYRON SINGLETON, 26.
TONY THOMAS, 51.
MICHAEL B. WILLIAMS, 51.
MALCOLM FRASIER. (Died 08-22).