MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Multiple explosions aboard two fuel barges near Mobile, Ala., led to a major fire Wednesday night that left three people critically injured with burns and created a situation so unstable that fire and rescue officials decided to let the fire burn into the night.
Firefighters from Mobile and U.S. Coast Guard officials responded after 8:30 p.m. CDT to a pair of explosions involving the gas barges in an area of the Mobile River east of downtown, authorities said.
As they were responding, a third explosion occurred at about 9:30 p.m., Mobile Fire and Rescue spokesman Steve Huffman wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Three more explosions followed over the next few hours.
The Coast Guard said early Thursday that a one-nautical-mile safety zone had been established around one barge, which it identified as an "empty compressed natural gas barge that was at the dock for cleaning."
Authorities said three people were transported to University of South Alabama Medical Center after suffering burn-related injuries. Huffman identified them as workers with Oil Recovery Co.
The three were in critical condition early Thursday, according to nursing administrator Danny Whatley.
Fire officials said they planned to let the barges burn overnight.
The Carnival Triumph, the cruise ship that became disabled in the Gulf of Mexico last February before it was towed to Mobile's port, was evacuated, said Alan Waugh, who lives at the Fort Conde Inn in downtown Mobile, across the river from the scene of the explosions. Waugh saw the blasts and said throngs of Carnival employees and others were clustered on streets leading toward the river as authorities evacuated the shipyard.
"It literally sounded like bombs going off around. The sky just lit up in orange and red," he said, "We could smell something in the air, we didn't know if it was gas or smoke." Waugh said he could feel the heat from the explosion and when he came back inside, his partner noticed he had what appeared to be black soot on his face.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Ofc. Carlos Vega said the initial blast took place in a ship channel near the George C. Wallace Tunnel — which carries traffic from Interstate 10 under the Mobile River. The river runs south past Mobile and into Mobile Bay, which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear, Huffman and Vega said. Huffman wrote early Thursday that the incident involved "two barges, six explosions so far."
"Once (the fire) is out and safe, a full investigation will take place," he wrote.
Mobile Fire Chief Steve Dean told AL.com he was confident the fire — which he said involves gas like what would be found at a service station pump — wouldn't spread to nearby industrial properties, including the shipyard where the Carnival cruise ship is docked.
Huffman said the ship is directly across the river from the incident — about two football fields in length.
The explosion comes two months after the 900-foot-long Triumph was towed to Mobile after becoming disabled on the Gulf during a cruise by an engine room fire, leaving thousands of passengers to endure cold food, unsanitary conditions and power outages for several days. The ship is still undergoing repairs there, with many workers living on board.
Carnival didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment late Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the cruise ship was dislodged from its mooring by a windstorm that also caused, in a separate incident, two shipyard workers to fall into Mobile Bay. While one worker was rescued, the other's body was pulled from the water more than a week later.
WEST, Texas (AP) — Residents of a Central Texas town are itching to get back into neighborhoods the crater-making explosion at a fertilizer plant.
Recovery and investigation of the blast's cause have begun in earnest in West, Texas.
Many of the 2,800 residents feel stuck, unable to direct their full energies to recovery while the investigation begins into what caused Wednesday's explosion at West Fertilizer Co. The displaced and those mourning the 14 dead are making do with what remained in their control.
Bill Killough paced the lobby of a local hotel Friday, planning how to make the most of whatever time authorities grant him to visit his house 2 ½ blocks from the site. The 76-year-old planned to use what little time authorities grant to grab guns and important documents.
UPDATE 6:15 PM:
Two people died in Monday's terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Globe confirmed that an 8-year-old boy is one of the two people who died.
The President was unwilling to call the bombing a terrorist attack during his statement on Monday afternoon, but a White House official classified it as a terror attack on Monday evening.
UPDATE 3:50 PM:
The Boston Globe reports the injury toll at the Boston Marathon Bombing has climbed to 64 wounded and 2 dead.
UPDATE 3:31 PM:
ABC News reports that Boston Police are asking people in the area of the bombing to avoid using cell phones for fear that they could trigger additional devices.
There are also reports that police have dismantled at least one additional explosive device.
UPDATE 3:08 PM
ABC News - Boston - Two explosions erupted the finish line of the Boston Marathon today, turning the annual race into a bloody crime scene.
The blasts occurred on Boyleston Street about three hours after the top runners had finished the race, but with thousands of marathoners still running the route.
According to law enforcement sources, the first blast was at the Marathon Sports running store before 3 p.m., and blew out windows in four nearby buildings, injuring at least 25 and killing 2.
About 10 second later, a second explosion occurred, severely injuring more bystanders, police said.
Boston EMS personnel could be seen shuttling the injured out of the blast area on wheelchairs. Several of them were bleeding from the face.
Massachussets Genreal Hospital has received four patients and is expecting more, according to a hospital spokesman.
A trauma nurse from the hospital told ABC News that the race's medical tent, already set up to deal with runner injuries, set up a morgue area at a triage center at the back of the tent. The medical staff reported multiple victims with severed limbs and children with severe burns.
Bomb squads are sweeping the area, checking suspicious packages and are testing for chemicals to help determine what kind of device was used, according to police.
Homeland Security Direction Eric Holder was in touch with the FBI in Boston and President Obama was notified of the blasts.
Police have told people in area to avoid trash cans, according to witnesses.
The explosions erupted on what is usually a festive day in Boston. It is designated Patriots Day and most offices are closed for the celebration and the marathon.
Debris from the explosions could be seen scattered throughout the spectators stands and finish line area of the marathon as emergency personnel cleared the area.
Video of the explosions showed plumes of white smoke pouring into the air above the street where runners were.
More than 26,00 runners were registered to compete in this year's marathon.
Illinois State Police say 55 year old Mickey Clayton was killed when propane truck he was driving rear-ended a coal truck and caught fire. The accident happened about 2:30 p.m. along County Line Road near Blackstump Road, just east of Steelville.
Firefighters had begun to put the fire out when a propane leak sent them ducking for cover. Moments later, an explosion sent a fireball more than 100 feet into the air. It took about 40 firefighters another hour to get the fire out.
The driver of the coal truck wasn't hurt.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated.
At least seven other people were less seriously injured in the 8 a.m. blast.
Granite City Fire Captain Bert Houston says the explosion happened after gas caught fire in the finishing area of the plant, which makes rail car components. Investigators are still trying to determine what ignited the gas.
Joseph Wambach has been charged for exploding a device outside of South County business. Earlier:
An explosion rocked a South County neighborhood this week. St. Louis County police now say they have a suspect in custody.
Police responded to a blast on Tesson Ferry in Sappington Wednesday night after people reported damaged. The suspect allegedly placed the explosive device outside of an Avon store, then walked into a nearby bar.
Police say the man resisted arrest, but was taken into custody. No motive has been announced.