A 90-CAR BNSF RAILROAD TRAIN HAULING tank cars of crude oil derailed in an isolated area of Pickens County, Alabama, Friday morning. Twelve of the cars derailed with nine of them becoming damaged, some leaking product. Three of the tankers exploded triggering a large fire within the consist.
There is also a trestle involved in the fire but it is unclear whether the trestle was the cause of the wreck or a casualty of the accident.
The cars that remained on the track have been uncoupled and pulled away from the burning wreckage. There are no exposures to be concerned with as far as the fire itself goes, but there are some small streams that could be affected by the leaking crude. The Tuscaloosa Fire Department Haz-Mat team is on the scene and have fully contained the leaking oil.
Because of the nearly-inaccessible area, it was decided to let the burning tank cars burn themselves out, a process that could last for several hours more. No injuries have been reported and only one residence has had to be evacuated.
WCFT-TV has the latest updates plus some brief video on the incident HERE.
AN EXPLOSION WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON rocked the Aldex Chemical factory in Granby, Quebec, and started a large fire. The blast occurred just prior to 5 pm and ignited a large storage of polystyrene, one of the three main chemicals used in making the company's synthetic rubber products.
Environmental testing of air samples on the scene detected no inhalation hazards and an evacuation of the area was deemed unnecessary.
"The fire has spread to about 90% of the plant," Granby's director of fire services Pierre Lacombe said at a press conference. "From the beginning, our efforts were concentrated on the area where chemicals were stored. These are found in 10% of the plant that was spared from fire."
The containment held and the chemicals were spared. Some of the plant's 18 employees were in the building when the fire began, but all of them evacuated safely and were accounted for. The FD expected the controlled fire to burn through to Thursday morning.
There is no suggestion yet on what caused the explosion.
LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO, is in the heart of chili-growing and processing country with dozens of related businesses throughout the area. One of them a few miles south in Santa Teresa, Deli-Food Chili and Spice had a problem Wednesday night that brought out the area haz-mat teams.
Deli-Food Chili grinds chili pods into powder and a lingering cloud of habanero powder started causing respiratory distress in some of the workers. Habanero peppers are the "hottest" of the domestic chili peppers.
Area workers called 911 around 7:45 p.m., complaining of irritated eyes, sore throats and bloody noses, officials said Thursday.
Officials determined that habanero chile particles lingered in the cold evening air after employees finished their work that night, then went into ventilation systems.
Officials estimated 50 people, from five nearby businesses, were affected. Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said 30 people were treated at the scene and released about 11:30 p.m. One woman who had a previous breathing ailment was treated at the hospital. About midnight, others were cleared to go back into their buildings.
The town's fire brigade was dispatched at 4:22 am to the Hoffman Gas Trans company where they found a working fire on the premises. While they were sizing up the situation and beginning to attack the fire, a large explosion of one of the tanker delivery trucks rocked the plant injuring 16 of the firefighters, 8 of them seriously (1 critically).
The blast that was felt more than 20 miles away accelerated the fire spread and caused additional tank trucks to begin exploding.
One of the unexploded tankers is shown in the foreground of
this view of some of the destruction. (SWR)
There was an immediate evacuation order for a 1,000-meter radius including the entire village as the fire continued uncontrolled following the tragedy. More than 450 firefighters, medical personnel and police were dispatched to the scene along with dozens of neighboring fire brigades and a special call to a nearby BASF chemical plant for specialized equipment and assistance.
The following video was taken shortly after the incident began:
As of Sunday morning the evacuation is still in place and while the fire is greatly diminished, there are still several small fires throughout the area that are being tended to.
At a Saturday afternoon press conference the police said that they believe this was probably an arson, but did not elaborate any further. Their investigation is following that path currently.
A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT firm located in a Manassas, Virginia, industrial park suffered damages and had one employee slightly injured Monday when a pressurized tank failed and launched through the roof of the building.
According to reports, the container flew about 80 feet into the air and then plunged back down and through the same roof creating a second hole and destroying an air-handling unit. The resulting debris and building parts were strewn about the parking lot, damaging many employees' cars.
The tank left this hole on its first trip through the roof (WJLA-TV)
The tank contained hydrogen or a hydrogen-based mixture. Apparently there was no flame ignition, only a pressure ka-boom that sent the container flying. The accident took place at 11:30 am at Utron Kinetics, a military contractor that is currently developing high-temperature rocket and missle propulsion engines for the military. Much of the information relating to the container and its contents will probably be embargoed.
An explosion was heard around 11:33 a.m. at Utron Kinetics at 9441 Innovation Drive in the Manassas area of Prince William County, said Kim Hylander, a spokeswoman for the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue.
The building was evacuated and the county's emergency HAZMAT and building collapse units are at the scene, she said. Fire officials believe the explosion is connected to a hydrogen air pressure vessel in the building.
Becuase of the cylinder's travel out through the roof and then its return, there was sufficient structural damage done to mandate the closing of the building until repairs are made to the roof. Early estimates say that will take about two weeks.
A CUSTER COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, CHEMICAL plant was destroyed Thursday morning following a series of explosions and a large fire.
The Danlin Industries facility in Thomas, Oklahoma, produces chemical compounds used in the oil and gas industries. They are stored and shipped in drums which were the cause of the many explosions that took place during the incident.
NBC News graphic
There were no workers in the plant just before midnight when the fire first broke out, the lock-up employee having left around 7 pm. The series of explosions lead to the evacuation of about 10 households located in the area of the 13-acre plant for precautionary reasons. There have been no injuries reported.
The Danlin company policy is to let this type of fire burn itself out rather than create a problem of contaminated fire stream water runoff. The FD is on containment posture as the fire burns down.
daybreak exposed the destruction caused by the fire (KFOR-TV)
KWTV Ch. 9 Oklahoma City was first on the scene and captured some early fire footage for this video report:
A PROPANE DISTRIBUTION FACILITY in Tavares, Florida, near Orlando was destroyed last night (Monday-Tuesday) when an explosion triggered a series of fires that generated still more ka-booms.
The entire area around Lake Tavares came out of their homes to watch the spectacular series of non-stop explosions and fireballs as the fire worked its way through 53,000 portable propane tanks that were stored in the facility.
As of daybreak this morning the plant officials announced that all of the 2 dozen employees that were on site have been accounted for and, so far, all of them are still alive. However about 7 of them have been hospitalized with 3 or 4 in critical condition from burns.
There is no indication yet on what caused the accident as the emergency is still ongoing at the time of this posting. ABC News has just filed this video report that they broadcast at 6 am:
WESH-TV is reporting:
One person was taken to Ocala Regional Hospital, three more men were flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center with critical burns and one person was taken to Shands Hospital. No fatalities were immediately reported.
A fire broke out at the plant at 10:30 p.m. Monday. Herrell said 24 to 26 workers were on staff at the time of the explosions.
"The employees were able to escape and scatter away because the explosion was not in their part of the building," Herrell said.
A half-mile evacuation of the area was ordered before midnight, affecting roughly 50 households, and a shelter was set up at the nearby First United Methodist Church. The evacuation was lifted at 2:30 a.m.
The three 90,000 gal. bulk tanks seen in the right in the photo above did not ignite, probably saving the entire area from demolition.
About 60 firefighters are on the scene as the main tactic is to let the fire burn itself out.
The Orlando Sentinel has the latest in a good report HERE.
A TANKER CARRYING 8,500 GALLONS of gasoline crashed while passing through a tunnel in Los Angeles, California, Saturday morning. The truck reportedly blew a tire causing it to go out of control and crashed into a guardrail, then flipped over and started spilling product which immediately caught fire.
The stream of burning gasoline ran through the tunnel to the outside where it started several small grass fires. More of the flaming fuel entered the storm drains and began setting off a series of manhole explosions as it continued down the sewer.
The runoff ended up in the Los Angeles River where it floated on top of the water and continued to burn as it followed the current downstream.
Firefighter works the burning river (KABC-TV)
The bulk of the fire was in the tunnel, though, where it burned so fiercely that the firefighters were unable to make an approach to the tanker which ended up as a large blob of molten aluminum.
This was a tank truck. (KTLA-TV)
The firefighters had to let the fire in the tunnel burn itself out, keeping them on the scene for several hours. Additional companies were needed for the many outside spot fires and the burning flotsam in the river.
KABC-TV filed this video report from the scene:
The tunnel as well as the section of highway overhead, will be closed for a long duration while the highway department gives thorough inspections to determine if they need to be replaced or repaired.
This photo provided by CalTrans shows the condition
of the inside of the tunnel.
After undergoing such intense heat for several hours, there is concern that the entire section may have to be replaced.
The first day of a European civil protection exercise was held in Lyon, France, on Wednesday and continued through Thursday. Created to simulate terrorist attacks, nearly 1,000 people were involved in these two days including firefighters, police officers, doctors, and soldiers. The goal is to prepare for any eventuality relief. Several different simulated attacks were staged, ie: nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical and explosive were tested. Manuel Valls, Interior Minister, was present in Lyon on Wednesday to monitor the exercise.
The international participation made for a colorful
collection of haz-mat suits. (Le Progres)
Of "exceptional size" exercise CBRN mobilized regional resources (five local departments), but also national and European. Teams from Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal were also present. Several government ministers and other European delegations attended the "gas" attack.
The most important exercise was held on Wednesday at Gerland, where nearly 1,000 people operated on a "war footing" from 1400 to 1700 hours.
Update, 12:45 pm Central: At least 60 known injured. Scroll down for more details. Update #2, 1:15 pm Central: One victim has died. Fire now reported knocked down. Scroll down for details.
A MAJOR EXPLOSION ROCKED a chemical plant and started a fire in Geismar, Lousiana, Thursday morning at 8:37 Central.
The cause of the explosion is not yet known and the incident is still active and threatening. The facility is the Williams Olefin plant. Local tv station WAFB-TV is reporting:
The Iberville Office of Emergency Preparedness says seven injuries were reported to them. Emergency crews are on the scene.
A hazardous materials team is on the scene. Reports are that the hazardous materials team is gearing up to decontaminate the area.
According to the company's website, it provides products to customers in the petrochemical industry. The Geismar plant produces 1.3 billion pounds of ethylene and 90 million pounds of polymer grade propylene, both flammable gases used in industrial chemicals and plastic products.
A neighboring plant says the major exposure is Butadiene spheres. They say that Williams Olefine has a hydrocarbon fire and the concern is that another explosion could occur and the fire is not under control.
This dramatic aerial video shows the fire is still out of control and spreading:
Update, 12:45 pm Central:
At least 60 known injured have been accounted for. WBRZ-TV is now reporting:
State Police said no fatalities were reported at the Williams Olefins plant in Geismar. Acadian Ambulance said they transported 47 patients via ambulance and buses to hospitals for treatment, and airlifted 13 to local hospitals and burn units.
State Police Capt. Doug Cain said around 600 people were working in the plant at the time of the explosion. That included contract workers as well as plant employees, and State Police said they were being evacuated to staging areas where people could pick them up.
Evacuations began immediately (WVLA-TV)
Update #2, 1:15 pm Central:
State Police have announced that one victim has died from his injuries. No identification released yet. WWL-TV adds:
By 1 p.m., State Police said the fire from the explosion had been (knocked down) and was under control by a hazardous materials crew sent to the scene.
The company sent out a news release saying the emergency shut-down valves were closed and the unit is isolated.. The release from the stack is reported to be residual propelyne, which is generating the smoke, according to the DEQ.
A NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE, NEIGHBORHOOD was getting ready for a special trash pickup Tuesday with folks setting out those larger items that don't fit, etc. for the trash man. One lady carried out an old ammunition box that had belonged to her late husband and set it in the pile, too.
A neighbor from across the street asked if he could have the box. After getting her permission he took it across the street and placed it on a pickup truck tailgate. As he opened the box a mortar shell went off, covering him in shrapnel.
The ammo box still rests on the tailgate
following the explosion. (News Journal photo)
The man is in critical but stable condition at Christiana Hospital.
Explosive experts from Dover Air Force Base have been called to help after officials believe they found more explosives. Nearby homes were being evacuated shortly after noon.
"Because they think it has to do with military ordnance they are bringing up Dover Air Force Base," said Michael G. Chionchio, assistant state fire marshal. "So we are at a stand down now waiting for Dover Air Force Base to assist [New Castle] County EOD."
Chionchio said a robot found two more items. "One definitely looks like a mortar round and one they’re not sure at the moment," Chionchio said.
Initially a 2-block area was evacuated as a precaution while the explosives team conducted its search.
A TANKER CARRYING 7,500 GALS. of diesel fuel overturned and caught on fire shortly after 6 am Thursday near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The 52-yr.-old driver was able to escape with just minor burns and was taken to the hospital.
The spectacular blaze was fueled by leaking product running along an overpass at a major interchange and caused I-81 to be shut down completely at Exit 67.
A witness to the crash, Patty Wachter of Dauphin, emailed PennLive about what she saw: "I was traveling Route 322 east taking the ramp to merge onto 81 and I heard a metallic sound. I looked to my left and the truck was sliding on its side and burst into flames. The fireball was huge and creating a cloud of dark black smoke.
"I saw a car that was following the tanker and hoped he got stopped. When I came around the bend I looked in my rearview mirror and there was a wall of fire and smoke from the road/ground up.
"I was just praying that everyone would get stopped before they hit it and that the driver got out alive. It was horrific."
Damage to the bridge was extensive and expected to keep the entire interchange closed at least through Sunday. Long term repairs could take months and cost upwards of $10 million.
The Cumberland County Sentinel has more details plus a full explanation of how the traffic flow of 100,000 vehicles per day will be rerouted around the shut down portion HERE.
MCFDTV posted this collection of raw videos, some taken before the arrival of FD while the roadway was still carrying traffic:
Update Sunday am: Casualties starting to appear. Scroll down for update:
The accident occurred around 2 am Saturday morning between the towns of Schellebelle and Wetteren. The train with 13 cars came from the Netherlands and was going to Gent-Zeehaven, the maritime port of Ghent. Six of the thirteen cars derailed, two are lying on their sides and three others caught on fire but the fire is under control.
Fire has however caused explosions in the cars and forced the authorities to arrange for the evacuation of residents who live near the track
The fire cars contain acrylonitrile, a toxic substance, said firefighters. Traces of cyanide escaped cars on fire (cars one, two and five), a carcinogen that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Teams of firefighters from Beveren measures are on-site. Currently, there is no danger to public health. Anti-cyanures kits have been provided to individuals would be exposed, but the release of smoke is not dangerous for the population. Two other cars contain of butadiene, five are empty and one was carrying light metals. This last is not on fire.
Extra water supply was pumped from drafting engines at the river.
Local residents were evacuated within a radius of 500 metres around the cars to two places. Within a radius of 1,000 meters, people should keep doors and Windows closed. Black smoke is visible from afar and is located above the village of Schellebelle and Wichelen. The SPF public health is on the scene also.
The provincial disaster plan was still in place Saturday afternoon. The Governor of East Flanders Jan Briers believes that the controlled burning of cars will definitely last until Saturday night. The operations of extinguishment and water containing traces of toxic substances is being discharged into sewers. The fire brigade has the fire contained and is allowing it to burn itself out.
The derailment occurred while the train was being switched from one track to another in the yards.
Fumes from the chemicals spread much further via a drainage system and authorities had to evacuate nearly 300 more people from their homes.
Many of the victims were people living well away from the scene of the accident, and Belgium's interior minister Joelle Milquet blamed the toxic fumes.
"There are two problems," she said. "There are the cars that derailed with this chemical product and which are ablaze, so there is a problem of poisoning linked to the smoke. The fire is under control but it will burn a while longer. But there is also another reaction.
"Some of the chemical product went into the drains and caused a kind of chemical reaction with gases that are toxic and escaped into certain streets beyond the perimeter that had already been evacuated due to the fire," she told the press.
EARLY MONDAY MORNING THE LUDENSCHEID, Germany, fire brigade was called to a freight forwarding depot for a truck on fire.
On arrival they found a loaded trailer fully involved in what at first appeared to be a routine fire of its type. As they were knocking the fire down with heavy hose streams, the water runoff was going into the storm sewer and, unknown to the firefighters, was carrying some escaping diesel fuel with it. While the fire was still smoldering, the firefighters began unloading the trailer to get to the hot spots and remaining fire pockets.
A short while later, smoke started coming from the sewer openings and not long after that reports of respiratory problems started coming in from not only the police and fire people, but many residents in the area. Determining that there was a toxicity in the smoke, the fire brigade ordered an evacuation of the entire area around the truck yard. Buses were brought in to provide shelter for 150 residents as the toxic cloud started traveling through the neighborhood.
Approximately 65 residents were complaining of respiratory distress and were taken to hospitals for blood gasses testing. Also, 35 firefighters and 13 policemen were treated, complaining of burning sensation in their throats, headaches and nausea. Once that began, the firefighters were withdrawn from the immediate area.
Come-On.de News posted this video report from the scene:
It was later learned that the diesel-saturated water runoff had caused a chemical reaction with a fiberglass-reinforced plastic conduit in the sewer that started burning underground and generating the toxic smoke.
Early investigation by the police indicates that the fire was probably an arson.
Massive Explosion and Fire Levels One Building,
Damages Eight Others.
A HUGE EXPLOSION THAT ROCKED an industrial park near Vernal, Utah, was felt for as many as 30 miles away early Saturday morning.
The blast occurred shortly after midnight at the Adler Hot Oil Services headquarters and immediately leveled one building while heavily damaging eight others. Two homes in the area also received some damage.
The explosion in the Ashley Valley Industrial Park destroyed one building and damaged eight others, said Chief Todd Wallis, with the Jensen Fire Department. There were no reports of anyone hurt or killed by the explosion.
The large blast shook much of the Basin and flooded the central dispatch center with calls from residents. It occurred around 12:15 a.m. Crews arrived on the scene and immediately began searching the area surrounding the explosion.
An evacuation order was issued for everybody within a half-mile radius of the explosion. Fire crews brought the blaze under control within hours, but the evacuation order was expected to remain in place until noon Saturday, as crews are still dealing with a leaky propane tank at the scene.
The leaking tank is reported to be a 1,000 gal. propane tank.
The fire was knocked down after "a few" hours, but units were being kept on the scene until the propane tank problem was mitigated. It was expected to be resolved by 1 pm Mountain. The tank is believed to have been damaged by the explosion and not a cause of the accident.
No word on what caused the explosion, but Uintah County Emergency Manager Tal Ehlers told Fox 13 there are no fatalities or injuries. Everyone living within a 1/2 mile radius of the blast site was evacuated.
The Red Cross has a temporary shelter on stand-by at Vernal Middle School at 721 West 100 South in Vernal. We talked with Red Cross Director of Communications Teresa Zundel who issued this statement: "The Red Cross works around the clock to help Utahns in need. We have a shelter open for evacuees at Vernal Middle School. People can come for food, shelter or information. We will be here in Vernal as long as we are needed."
Have you ever had a fire in a Porta-Potty? You hear about them once in a while and the newspapers seem to enjoy mentioning them, but they are relatively rare. There are not many ignition hazards in them other than the occasional arson and perhaps a pocket of methane.
My sole experience with one kind of sneaked up on us. It was after dark and the throne room in question was in a wooded area for some strange reason. I still don't know why it was there, but the call came in as a woods fire, so it was a 1-engine dispatch. We could see flames back in the trees, so we drove as close as we could get and pulled the booster line about a hundred feet or so to the now-dwindling flames and put it out. We still didn't know what it was because by then the fire had completely melted the fiberglass structure and all we saw was a puddle of something flammable.
After pulling a Circle-D into the fire zone to get a better look around, it was eventually deduced that we had just been tromping around one of Don's Johns. Immediate boot inspection commenced along with some audible "Yeck!s" and other descriptive exclamations I won't put into print. But we weren't done yet. After cleaning up and making sure there would be no rekindle. We rewound the booster and then found out that the pumper was stuck in the forest floor. That led to a half-hour wait for a tow truck to get there and pull us out. The smallest fire of the month gave us the largest aggravation. Talk about a boat load of sh*t.
But times have certainly changed since then and hazards of all types are greater now than we had our potty-in-the-trees episode. For instance, let's look at a golf course in Purcell, Oklahoma, that has a Porta-Potty mid-course for the golfers' convenience.
This past Tuesday the groundskeepers discovered three strange "sports drink" bottles containing unusual chemicals inside the break room, so they called the police. Before the cops arrived on the scene two of the bottles exploded, adding to the suspicions of the onlookers. After making sure the third bottle was neutralized, the detectives concluded that the hideaway was the site of someone's "pop-up" meth lab where a quick "shake-and-bake" concoction was being made, and probably used while sitting unobserved in the drab waiting room.
The investigators have a lead on a suspect and KFOR-TV has a video report with some views of the crime scene:
Remember that on the next time you have to make a dash to the nearest. You have to check out every place before you step in it nowadays.
Now let's check out our own danger zones and get this equipment check taken care of. I'll get some more non-explosive coffee going for us while the Sunday breakfast is cooking. See you back in the day room when it's ready.
Around 7:40 a.m., a loud explosion occurred at the Air Liquide plant at 11450 W. Fairmont Parkway, just west of Bay Area Boulevard. The blast, which occurred in a metal building on the site, triggered a fire that filled the area with heavy smoke. About 15 to 20 employees were believed to be on site at the time, a company spokesman said.
Rescue workers brought in heavy equipment and searched for hours before recovering the body. "There's been a lot of structural collapse inside so we've got a lot of safety issues," said Lt. Dean Hensley with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.
Gases, including oxygen, nitrogen and argon, are mixed at the plant into cylinders that are used in the processing of such items as food, beverages and electronics, according to a company spokesman.
Air Liquide describes itself as "the world leader in gases for industry, health and the environment." Headquartered in Houston, the company has more than 200 locations, including about 130 gas plants and 2,000 miles of pipeline, the website states.
KPRC-TV provided some raw video from the blast site:
Between 10 to 20 employees were inside the plant, and soon after it happened, we got word that one worker had been injured and another was missing. Search crews spent the next several hours searching for him — until finally, a body was discovered Saturday evening.
Dean Hensley with the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office said the medical examiner hasn't yet identified the body. But late Saturday evening, his family says they received word from authorities that 30-year-old Javier Ortiz is the worker that was found dead.
"We just ask for prayers for our family, from Houstonians and for God to help us in this difficult time," his wife, Julie Ortiz said. She says she and her husband have three children, aged 3, 5, and 7.
"I just want everyone to know he's a wonderful father of three and he's loved very much," she said. "We're very active in our church. We're good people. He's a chemist and I'm a teacher at a high school."
Emergency responders used a canine unit from CyFair Fire Department, heavy equipment and a HAZMAT team to search for him, but the mission wasn't easy. In fact, his body was still buried under the rubble by 10pm Saturday. Investigators say they're having trouble getting it out.
A second employee was injured the blast. He was taken by LifeFlight to UTMB's burn unit in Galveston, where his family says he is in critical condition.
That man's family say he's suffered burns to more than 75 percent of his body, and he's not speaking right now. They say the victim worked at the plant for at least 10 years and has two daughters.
KTRK-TV also filed this video report:
KTRK-TV has additional details and more videos posted HERE.
A CHEMICAL REACTION WITH A KA-BOOM AND FLASH fire burned two employees at an environmental industrial waste facility early Friday morning.
Around 3:45 am, four workers at the Environmental Enterprises, Inc., plant in Cincinnati, Ohio, were cleaning used filters prior to their being shredded when the accident occurred. The filters were laden with sodium chlorate which is sensitive to friction when something caused a spark and the resulting reaction.
Cincinnati Fire District Chief Mike Zimmerman said four workers working an overnight shift at Environmental Enterprises inc. at 4650 Spring Grove Avenue were shredding industrial air filters when an explosion and fire started. One worker was critically burned and remains in critical condition at University Hospital. A second worker also injured by the explosion is in stable condition at the hospital.
Sprinklers in the facility limited the fire but water was nearing Sodium Chlorite which is water reactive and can explode on contact with water, said Zimmerman. This created firefighting problems.
The haz-mat teams were also on the scene. Air quality was checked and no excessive limits were found. The fire units continued with mop up work on the hot spots and checking for extensions.
"Fire Sounds Like a Jet Plane Flying Over the Roof"
* * *
A 20-INCH NATURAL GAS TRANSMISSION LINE blew in Sissonville, West Virginia, Tuesday afternoon and started a large fire that consumed five houses.
The rupture ripped open around 12:40 pm in the small town near Charleston and brought life in the area to a standstill as the ear-splitting roar of the fire and 75-ft. high flames dominated the neighborhood. The Associated Press reports:
Four (now five) homes went up in flames and collapsed in charred heaps Tuesday after a natural gas line exploded in an inferno that raged for at least an hour, melting guardrails and pavement on a swath of Interstate 77.
Trevor Goins lives about a half-mile from the explosion and was watching television in his apartment when he saw a ripple in his coffee cup and the floor shook. "I thought possibly (it was) a plane crash," said Goins, who immediately went outside with several neighbors. "It was so loud it sounded like a turbine engine. You almost had to put your hands over your ears."
"The flames were so high, they were so massive," he said. "I could only imagine what had happened." Carper said the flames spanned about a quarter of a mile and ran through a culvert under the interstate.
"It actually cooked the interstate," he said. "It looks like a tar pit." A roughly 800-foot section both directions was baked by the heat. "It turned the asphalt to cinder," he said, after walking across it. "Your feet were hot. It was like walking on a volcano."
The gas supplier Columbia Gas Transmision had the pipeline shut down relatively quickly, but it took nearly an hour for the pressure to drop and for the gas to burn off.
Miraculously, despite the heavy destruction there were no reported injuries other than two people who had minor smoke inhalation. Nor were there an vehicles on that stretch of the Interstate when it blew.
As soon as the fire died out, work crews went to work repairing the gas line while highway workers began scraping away the asphalt from the highway down to the concrete base. New asphalt is being applied tonight and the highway department says that they expect to be able to reopen the Interstate sometime Wednesday night.
The Charleston Daily Mail has more details HERE plus a good video.
6 Million Pounds of M6 Propellant Left to the Elements
THE RESIDENTS OF DOYLINE, LOUISIANA, facing the possibility of an apocolyptic ka-boom, have relocated from their town to more distant shelters for safety's sake. Government inspectors, looking over a former munitions plant, found what at first was believed to be 1 million pounds of explosives that turned out to be 6 million pounds that was scattered and hidden away over the entire complex that is now a local industrial park.
Louisiana State Police photo
The 400-acre site that is problematic is under the control of Explo Systems, Inc., a business firm that disposes unwanted and/or outdated military explosives. An unexplained explosion on site in October that shook the entire town triggered an investigation by the Louisiana State Police, and it was their investgator that uncovered the huge cache of improperly-stored explosives. The State Police began removing the explosives this weekend but are concerned about the possibility of things like a lightning strike causing another ka-boom. So they called for a voluntary evacuation while they carried out the removal.
Officials estimate that more than half of Doyline's 800 residents heeded police advice to evacuate in advance of the cleanup at the Explo Systems Inc. site. Col. Mike Edmondson, commander of Louisiana State Police, said the material is stable and would need an ignition source to explode. The precautions were taken because officials fear that any spark could set off a huge explosion of the material, which they said was stored improperly in a relatively small area.
Edmondson was hesitant to estimate when it would be safe for Doyline residents to return home. He also said state police weren't sure how much damage an explosion of the material could cause, even after consulting with Department of Defense officials.
"Nobody can tell you what 6 million pounds of explosives would do if it went up," Edmondson said in a telephone interview. "And I don't want to find out."
Edmonson said that Explo Systems leases and controls about 400 acres of the 15,000-acre Camp Minden, a former ammunition plant that now is a state-owned industrial site and home to a National Guard training facility. He estimated that the M6 propellant was stored in an area of less than 10 acres. It was discovered there, stored indoors and outdoors, sometimes in containers that had spilled open, by a trooper following up on an October explosion at the facility.
Louisiana State Police photo
Authorities had initially estimated the total of M6 stored at the site at 1 million pounds after the first investigator saw cardboard boxes on long rows of pallets behind a building. Police found more stacked in sheds and warehouses when crews returned Saturday to begin moving the boxes into bunkers about two miles away on the former munitions site, state police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain said Sunday.
"It wasn't in their storage magazines. They had it hidden on the property, away from the storage magazines where we would expect to find it," Cain said.
Edmonson said "it was stuffed in corners. It was stacked all over."
Explo is now the subject of a criminal investigation, state police said.
This aerial video of the hidden stash was taken by the Louisiana State Police:
By Sunday night police and Explo employees had removed approx. 1 million pounds of the explosives and segregated another 240,000 lbs. A police spokesman says that he expects to be able to lift the evacuation order by Tuesday evening.
State police are continuing their investigation into when and how the powder came to be stored outdoors and in open air buildings. Explo’s vice president of operations has worked with state police since the beginning of the investigation, however, the owners have been in South Korea and are expected to return to the country today, Edmonson said. Explo’s manufacturing operations have been suspended, but powder is still be sold and distributed to buyers.
The powder is being loaded onto 18-wheelers (27 are involved in the operation) and trucked about two miles across the reservation to bunkers. So far, no incidents or injuries have occurred.
"It’s safe when its shipped and packaged properly," Edmonson said. "It’s in its safest form. We’re comfortable with working with it. Our concern is there’s so much of it in a small area. That’s the one thing you don’t want to do with this product."
The South Jersey Times is on the scene and should be updating regularly HERE.
Update, 4:30 pm:
The immediate threat has eased and rail officials are trying to determine what caused the derailment. Whether the bridge collapse causded the derailment, of the derailing rail cars caused the bridge to fail will take some time to determine.
The train – now identified as a CSX Railroad train operating on Conrail trackage - had 84 cars in its consist. Of the seven or eight that went off the tracks, four of them were tankers carrying vinyl chloride in liquid form. Only one of the tankers was leaking and it appears to have ceased, so the main hazard is over. USA Today reports:
"There are cars that are in precarious position," Larry Hajna, a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said at a briefing. "When they have to start moving these cars, you want to make sure they're protected."
The vinyl chloride leak from that car appears to have stopped, Hajna said. "It doesn't appear to be any immense threat" now, he said.
The train with two locomotives, 82 freight cars and a caboose was making its way from Camden to the industrial town of Paulsboro, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia International Airport. Cars went off the rails on a swing-style bridge, owned by Conrail, over Mantua Creek. One tanker containing 25,000 gallons of vinyl chloride was sliced open in the accident and some of the gas spewed into the air, while the rest turned into a solid and settled into the bottom of the tanker.
People who live nearby said the air was smoky and had a sweet chemical smell for part of the morning. More than 40 people were hospitalized, most complaining of breathing problems after the accident. Eleven people were transported to Underwood-Memorial Hospital, and 31 more arrived on their own, according to spokeswoman Karen Urbaniak.
By late morning, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said that sensors were not measuring any amounts of the chemical at the site.By late morning, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said that sensors were not measuring any amounts of the chemical at the site.
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WE ARE SEEING MORE AND MORE of these types of transit buses all over, not just North America, but in Europe and some Asian countries as well.
That big, box thingy on the roof is the fuel tank for the compressed natural gas that is used to propel these coaches. Naturally, firefighters immediately begin thinking "fire problems here" when we see that. How about the relief valve on that tank? Do you know where it is? We are accustomed to overheated or overpressured tanks venting at the top, in the valve assembly usually.
But how about these buses? No indication of the vent or fill valve at a glance. So if you have some in your response area, have you taken the time to find out where they are?
Chief Billy G. sent along this video of a CNG-powered bus in Wassenaar, Netherlands, that vented after the firefighters were on the scene. Think about this and pass it along:
SLAUGHTER, LOUISIANA, FIREFIGHTERS along with other Baton Rouge area departments are mopping up this morning (Monday) after a major fire in a local chemical research facility completely destroyed the building.
Reportedly nobody was at the facility when the fire started. (WAFB)
The incident involved the Monolyte Laboratory, a biochemical research center that deals with environmentally friendly chemicals.
The fire was discovered shortly before 1:30 am Central and had a full grip on the building when the FD arrived. Firefighting efforts were directed at containing the fire to the property and evacuating the nearby residents.
WAFB-TV tells us:
As of 5 a.m., officials said the fire was mostly contained, but crews were still working on hotspots. Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading beyond the plant.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
"The cleanup is going to be a major issue of the facility," Jackson explained. "It was a total loss, totally engulfed and protecting the property around it, the other properties, and I think there's going to be somewhat of an environmental impact. That'll be addressed and I'm sure DEQ will be on that."
Jackson added no one was on site when the fire started and no injuries were reported.
WAFB-TV has some fire footage in this early video report from the scene: