Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse: Crews conduct controlled demolition of span

Francis Scott Key Bridge

BALTIMORE — The controlled demolition of the largest remaining span of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was conducted in Baltimore on Monday.

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Explosives were detonated to break down part of the span, which collapsed during the early hours of March 26 when a cargo ship struck one of the bridge supports. A portion of the bridge was on the deck of the Dali, which lost control and hit a bridge support. Six people died as a result of the bridge’s collapse.

The explosives flashed orange and let off a cloud of black smoke upon detonation, and the span fell quickly into the water in seconds, The Associated Press reported. The longest trusses fell away from the cargo vessel and slid off its bow.

Crews had placed explosives into precision cuts of the remaining truss that rested on the cargo ship to remove the wreckage, WBAL-TV reported. The explosions through the precision cuts helped break the bridge into smaller pieces so cranes could remove them, according to the television station.

The bridge weighs up to 600 tons and measures about 500 feet, The Associated Press reported.

The detonation was supposed to occur over the weekend but was delayed until Monday because of weather conditions producing lightning within 10 miles of the Dali, according to WBAL.

The controlled detonation sent the truss into the Patapsco River in pieces, WJZ-TV reported. Officials shared an animation of the process.

The demolition happened with more than 20 crew members still aboard the Dali, according to the television station. The next step is for hydraulic grabbers to lift the resulting sections of the span onto barges, the AP reported.

Eight workers were on the bridge when the Dali hit the span. Two of the men who were near the end of the bridge were rescued shortly after it collapsed.

The six victims who went missing were part of a Brawner Builders crew working on the bridge when it was struck by the Dali, The Baltimore Sun reported. They were presumed dead later that day as operations shifted from rescue to recovery.

The controlled demolition will allow the Dali to be refloated, the AP reported. That will restore traffic through one of the nation’s busiest ports as the cleanup enters its final stages.

Officials with United Command said the plan to reopen the main channel in the Patapsco River and provide access to the Port of Baltimore by the end of May remains on schedule, WJZ reported.

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