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updated: 2/2/2013 6:49 PM

Hundreds watch as San Diego power plant implodes

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  • The South Bay Power Plant collapses Saturday after imploding.

    The South Bay Power Plant collapses Saturday after imploding.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- In a matter of minutes, a hulking power plant that loomed over San Diego Bay since the late 1950s was demolished Saturday, to make way for a city park.

The implosion -- which had been months in the planning -- turned the mighty structure into a heap of concrete and twisted steel.

Kayakers and other onlookers positioned themselves as early as 4 a.m. to watch the implosion of the 165-foot South Bay Power Plant and say goodbye to a bit of local history

The plant collapsed just after 7 a.m. after 200 pounds of charges ignited 300 pounds of dynamite strategically embedded in steel beams, UT San Diego reported ( ). Ignition flashes could be seen in the seconds before the main towers toppled, seemingly in slow motion, sending up an enormous plume of dust.

A crowd of hundreds, including city officials and former plant workers clutching cameras, cheered from nearby Marina View Park.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox told the newspaper the removal of the structure symbolizes a "dramatic and significant example of the progress being made by the city and the port on their plans for the waterfront."

Tanya M. Castaneda of the Port of San Diego, which owns the plant, said the $40 million demolition will dramatically open up bay views and make way for plans for a public park and economic development.

The plant was decommissioned in 2010. The implosion, originally slated for October, was delayed several times until it was finally scheduled for Feb. 2.

In the decades since San Diego Gas & Electric constructed the plant, it changed hands four times and went from burning fuel oil to natural gas, according to UT San Diego. At full capacity, at one time it could generate 700 megawatts -- enough to power a half-million homes in Southern California.

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