AP Newswire - Latebreaking News
Glen County, Texas
October 25, 2003
It was October 25 when they had the finals in the 2003 bean eating
contest. All contestants arrived early in the morning at the newly
constructed Glen County fairgrounds coliseum. No one was aware that
less than two hours later most of them would be dead. The annual
bean eating contest has been taking place since 1966, and aside from a
few stomach aches, there had never been any critical incidents or
deaths. In past years, the contests had been held at the Glen county
fairgrounds barn, which was drafty and often quite cold at this time
of year, and whose wooden plank flooring was badly in need of repair.
The decision to relocate the contest to the new coliseum was
unanimously approved by the contest board.
The contest began at 9am sharp. Contestants began shovelling down
pound after pound of the pork & beans. The final beans were consumed
about 45 minutes later, when William Sharrey was declared the winner,
after breaking the world record by eating 18 lbs 6.32 ounces of Pork
and Beans. The runner up, Margaret Trippit, took second place, eating
11 lbs 14.8 ounces of the beans.
Near the end of the contest, the flatulance from all the contestants
began accumulating directly on top of the concrete floor, filling the
coliseum with the deadly gasses, and leaving a flammable accident just
waiting to happen. None of the gas could escape from the building
because of the thick house wrap sealing the structure far too tightly
for an event of this nature.
At approximately 10:24am. the building exploded and burst into flames,
causing the worst disaster to ever occur in Glen County Texas The
explosion and fire are under investigation, but authorities say it was
not arson. It appears that the tightly sealed building, wrapped in
plastic "house wrap" trapped the deadly farts. One severely burned
witness said he recalled someone lighting a cigarette in the men's
rest room when the blast occurred. Apparently the gasses were ignited
lighting at that moment. Fire chief Ronald Fairchild Jr. was quoted
saying "the structure acted just like a bottled gas container, and
with one spark it became a bomb and fireball". He went on to say "the
structure was sealed too air tightly for this event". He further
stated "there were over 100 contestants, and at least 1200 lbs of
beans were consumed.... what do you expect, they produced a lot of
flammable gas, and the result was inevitable".
So far, 117 have been confirmed dead from the blast, 62 are
hospitalized, most critically, and at least another hundred persons
are missing, which are believed to have simply vaporized during the
severe blast. The blast completely destroyed the newly completed
coliseum, caused several other nearby fairpark buildings to ignite,
and shattered windows in buildings as far as 16 miles away.
Additionally, there are beans scattered for miles.
"This is the worst disaster to ever occur in Glen County TX", said one
of the few contestants to survive with only minor injuries.
Invesigators are combing through the ruins looking for bodies. Their
efforts are being hindered because everything is coated with beans.
One fire fighter received a broken arm, after slipping on the slippery
coating of bean slime which coats the remaining floor of the
structure, and everything else for miles.
President Bush has been notified and local authorities are declaring
this a state disaster, and requesting federal aid.
Our news team will keep you updated as more details become available.
Reporter: Cheryl Bradley
AP News Service