Community holds ceremony to commemorate 75th anniversary of 1947 Texas City Disaster

In this April 16, 1947 photo, refineries and oil storage tanks at the Monsanto Chemical Company burn in the waterfront area in Texas City, Texas. (Associated Press)

TEXAS CITY, Texas – The Texas City community held ceremony to commemorate 75 years since the 1947 Texas City Disaster, one of the deadliest industrial disasters in U.S. history.

Mayor Dedrick Johnson Sr. began the ceremony with a moment of silence. He was joined by Texas City Fire Chief David Zacherl to present the memorial to the firefighters who lost their lives in the disaster.

“This is a day of remembrance, honor, respect, and praise for our fallen brothers who gave their ultimate sacrifice,” Chief Zacherl said. “..and the survivors who would never forget, nor let Texas City perish or fade away following the industrial disaster in our nation’s history.”

Chief Zacherl’s speech was followed by a tolling of the fire bell, the same one used in 1947 by Texas City firefighters.


The disaster, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the S.S. Grandcamp, loaded with a cargo of 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, mysteriously caught fire, ultimately leading to another ship, the S.S. High Flyer, igniting 16 hours later. The Grandcamp explosion launched the cargo 2,000-3,000 feet into the air and caused a 15-foot tidal wave.

Nearly 600 were confirmed dead and thousands were injured. Only one Texas City fighter survived the disaster.


A look back at the worst industrial incidents in Houston’s history

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About the Author:

A graduate of the University of Houston-Downtown, Ana moved to H-Town from sunny southern California in 2015. In 2020, she joined the KPRC 2 digital team as an intern. Ana is a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, a catmom of 2, and an aquarium enthusiast. In her spare time, she's an avid video gamer and loves to travel.