Landmark smokestacks demolished in cloud of smoke

ST. PETERSBURG — A one-minute warning sounded.

Silence.

Then three explosions.

Now only a thick cloud of dust and debris remains where the three smokestacks of the P.L. Bartow Steam Power Plant once stood.

The 10 a.m. Tuesday demolition on Weedon Island took down each of the 300-foot tall stacks as planned.

The smokestacks have been a local landmark for more than 50 years. It took less than 10 seconds for them to come down.

Dozens of spectators lined Gandy Beach to watch the as the smokestacks fell, one by one.

Linda Perry, 32, remembers looking up at the smokestacks on fishing trips with her father when she was a little girl.

"It did kind of give me chills and almost brought tears to my eyes when they went down," she said.

Peter Harris, 60, watched with his 9-year-old golden retriever Alice, who seemed startled by the booms. He has lived here since 1976.

"It's sad to see a landmark go," he said. "Now, the only one left is Big Bend and it has no sister to look at."

But Ernest Thomas, 42, who lives in the Venetian Harbor townhomes, among the closest properties to the old plant, said the smokestacks were an eyesore.

"I'm kind of glad it's gone," Thomas said from a dock overlooking Snug Harbor. "Property values just went up."

Prior to the demolition, Progress Energy said noise and vibrations shouldn't be a problem. Car alarms sounded shortly after the explosions but local residents did not report any problems or concerns. The demolition was not expected to pose a threat for wildlife.

"We have a successful implosion," said Rob Sumner, a spokesman with Progress Energy. He said the stacks fell as expected onto their property.

The company had not gotten any calls from residents in the area.

The Weedon Island Preserve will be closed today until officials deem it safe to the public.

Smokestacks at the P.L. Bartow Steam Power Plant on Weedon Island in St. Petersburg disappear Tuesday morning into a thick cloud of dust and rubble.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Smokestacks at the P.L. Bartow Steam Power Plant on Weedon Island in St. Petersburg disappear Tuesday morning into a thick cloud of dust and rubble.

Landmark smokestacks demolished in cloud of smoke 02/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 5:42pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...