Mobile Abrasives Manager Rob Bitzer shows me the broken windows--busted warehouse lights--and other damage that followed when these barges blew up. He runs a place centered around every major Mobile disaster this year. The arrival, escape and re-capture of the Carnival Triumph happened on his front lawn. The explosion of the barges happened in his back yard.
"I guess pretty lucky I mean the outcome could have been a lot different," says Manager Rob Bitzer. You can see damage at grain silos where aluminum siding was torn off. A gigantic lid was thrown 50 yards as these barges turned inside out with a simple start.
"It was determined a spark entered into a tank it was determined that a spark entered into a tank which ignited the vapors which created the explosion that's where the investigation is leading," says USCG Lt. Mike Clausen. Thursday morning the east side of the shipping channel was under tighter than usual security--cops checking to make sure anyone driving through had business here--while business slowed for Austal no ships were damaged.
"We had a little bit of material come over because we're in such close proximity to the event but nothing of consequence that's noteworthy," says Austal President Craig Percivalle.