Asarco smokestacks fall into history

By John Purvis

EL PASO, Texas — El Paso’s skyline changed forever; the Asarco smokestacks were destroyed Saturday morning.

The first of two major demolitions happened just after sunrise.

The remaining two Asarco smokestacks that reached hundreds of feet into the sky, came down with picture-perfect precision.

KFOX14 covered the demolition live on-air and online. Anchor John Purvis was in the blast zone as the stacks fell into history.

The smokestacks have dominated west El Paso’s skyline for nearly half a century, but in a matter of minutes, they disappeared from that skyline forever.

More than two dozen mist cannons soaked the ground to soften the blow and to reduce the dust when the stacks hit the ground.

A large crowd anxiously awaited the fall of the two towers.

Five minutes before demolition, a red flag was placed to let spectators know it was almost time.

Flares were the final warning shot before loud booms of explosives were set.

At about 6:55 a.m., the sun shined over the Franklin Mountains, making El Paso history.

Smoke belched out of the Asarco smokestacks one last time, as they tumbled to the ground and a cloud of dust then filled the sky.

Slowly, the dust cloud rolled from Asarco onto Interstate 10 and beyond.

The fog hung like a shroud to mark the passing of a major piece of El Paso history.

Former El Paso Mayor Larry Francis was among those who came to see the end for himself.

“They came down as scheduled. The property is now ready to be sold I guess. I think that’s a step forward for the city,” Francis said.

The sale of the Asarco land is probably still about three years away. The remains of the smokestacks will be buried at the smelter site, some materials will be recycled and remediation of the land must be completed.