Tuesday, May 06, 2008

But Sugar Can't Melt Steel!

I am a bit behind on this story, but hey, I have been busy. It was rather interesting to read this tragic story regarding an explosion and fire at a sugar plant. No jetliner full of fuel ran into it, simple sugar was enough to collapse the roof, and kill several people.

Then, on the night of Feb. 7, as Mr. Sexton was boiling liquid sugar in massive iron pans to turn it into crystals, he was knocked out of his chair by the "loudest ka-boom I ever heard in my life."

The four-story building at the heart of the Imperial Sugar Co. shook. Embers and debris blasted across the 155-acre complex, and a column of flame shot hundreds of feet into the air. Mr. Sexton, who had been about 50 yards from the explosion's suspected center, roused himself and inched through the dark plant, helping a badly burned co-worker along the way.

Superheated sugar flowed like lava until it cooled and formed rock-hard barriers. The building's steel frame melted. It took firefighters a week to finally put out the fire. The disaster at the 91-year-old factory, known for its "Dixie Crystals" brand, killed 13 of Mr. Sexton's co-workers and injured 45 others -- the deadliest such accident in more than 25 years.