Waco explosion reminds locals of ConAgra explosion back in 1984

Waco explosion reminds locals of ConAgra explosion back in 1984

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Three people were killed back in September 1984, others injured and reported missing when a ConAgra feed mill blew up. Three people were killed back in September 1984, others injured and reported missing when a ConAgra feed mill blew up.
"I looked up, and there was this enormous orange, purple, grey cloud," said Charles Williams, who worked close to the facility back in 1984. "I looked up, and there was this enormous orange, purple, grey cloud," said Charles Williams, who worked close to the facility back in 1984.

By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The massive fertilizer explosion in Waco, TX, reminded East Tennesseans of a similar explosion in  Knoxville nearly 30 years ago.

Three people were killed back in September 1984, others injured and reported missing when a ConAgra feed mill blew up.

The Knoxville Fire Department said a spark from a truck at a loading dock ignited grain dust. It was a massive firefighting and rescue effort.

Thick black smoke filled the skies, people for miles around felt their homes shake, over 75 firefighters rushed to the scene, more than a dozen ambulances arrived to help, and National Guard helicopters flew over the area.

There are many who clearly remember those visuals close to thirty years later.

"I looked up, and there was this enormous orange, purple, grey cloud," said Charles Williams, who worked close to the facility back in 1984.

Williams also watched the coverage from Waco, Texas last night, and says it brought back some tucked away memories.

"I was convinced Knoxville had been nuked. It was only much later I discovered the ConAgra tower had exploded. It all came back last night when I was watching scenes from Waco. Wondering what it smelled like, ammonia? No, the ConAgra fire explosion smelled like whiskey," described Williams.

We asked Charles to compare the size of that West Texas explosion to the one he experienced. He says the ConAgra explosion was a "pin prick" compared to Waco. Still it was pretty terrifying.

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