Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jeep... tent... boom.

Big explosion in Milwaukee this morning. I imagine it's one of those scenes that'll be relegated to the "Cool Fire Footage From Around Our Nation" segment of the local news elsewhere, but the explosion, subsequent fire, and aftermath have all played out in a compelling way in the news in southeast Wisconsin today.

The 19 Minutes staff happened to be about a mile from the plant that blew up at the time it blew up this morning. We were on a city bus and heard (and felt) a really loud thud that momentarily drowned out the song on our iPod ("Sleeping Satellite" by Tasmin Archer, and God alone knows why that's lodged in our memory). Around the bus, no reaction. Everybody continues reading their Stephen King novels. We figured it was a snowball hitting the side of the bus.

Shortly thereafter, a truly impressive number of emergency vehicles went speeding by in the opposite direction. In a testament to our frighteningly dubious newsgathering abilities, it took until 2:30 this afternoon for us to connect the thud with the emergency vehicles with the explosion.

Actually, perhaps the most compelling graphic of the day came from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Seismic Center, which charted the shockwave from the blast:

What it did not chart, was the shockwave from my hand smacking my forehead after figuring out the thud from this morning's bus ride.

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