MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — As hundreds of people looked on, crews used explosives Sunday to demolish a 10-story former power plant at the site of a shuttered paper mill in western Michigan.
The building in Muskegon came down at 10:40 a.m. as invited guests watched from the site itself and others observed from nearby streets.
"I'm just here to witness something I'll probably never see again in my life," longtime neighbor Ed Prelgauskas, who watched from a lawn chair, told WOOD-TV. "It's a once in a — probably once in a lifetime event."
"It was utter astonishment and excitement," said Doug Melching, owner of the property and of the demolition company Melching Inc. "It's been a good day and thank heaven all is safe."
Witnesses reported hearing the explosion as far away as West Olive, about 20 miles south of Muskegon, MLive.com reported.
The Muskegon City Commission approved the demolition in September. The paper mill closed in 2009, idling about 200 workers.
The aim of the implosion was to tip over the massive power plant structure, officials said. Two remaining smokestacks at the Sappi paper mill site are expected to be taken down separately.
Authorities were carrying out some evacuations in preparation for the demolition.
"We brought all our kids here; they wanted to see it," said Steve Cooper, watching with his twin 7-year-old daughters. "I think it's going to be a learning experience for them and something they'll probably remember the rest of their lives."
Soon after the blasts, Melching and Muskegon public safety officials canvassed the neighborhood to the south. There was no debris on the street despite the industrial steel building being feet from the roadway.
"I've never seen such an implosion. ... It was exciting and went well," said Muskegon City Commissioner Byron Turnquist, who watched the event with several hundred people invited to the 120-acre Sappi site.