Compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel tanks explode during truck fire

From time to time, hazards that we may have previously recognized as low-frequency encounters become something we are much more likely to face on a fire or other emergency response. Technology or culture evolves. A particular process or type of equipment becomes more prevalent in society. And we get to deal with that.

While the particular changes or improvements may be deemed to make life easier, cheaper, or otherwise more efficient or friendly for society — new hazards may manifest, leaving firefighters and other emergency personnel with dangers we must take into account when responding to an incident. If you have not already done so, I would add compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled vehicles to the list. While generally recognized as a safe fuel source, like anything we encounter, a fire situation may put us in danger if the equipment or safety features are compromised.

WTHR Channel 13 – Indianapolis

This week, firefighters in Indianapolis responded to a fire in a garbage truck. This particular truck was fueled by natural gas, compressed into carbon fiber tanks. During the response, the tanks failed resulting in an explosion that  reportedly shot debris up to a quarter-mile and damaged five businesses. One firefighter was hit in the head by debris but suffered only minor injuries.

WTHR Channel 13 reported the following:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Fire Department is investigating what caused a Republic trash truck carrying compressed natural gas cylinders to explode in the parking lot of Ace Hardware in the 8500 block of Westfield Boulevard Tuesday morning.
One of the tanks flew across Westfield Boulevard and hit a dry cleaning business in the strip mall, IFD spokesperson Rita Reith said. One firefighter was struck in the head by debris, but his injury was minor. The driver of the truck was not injured.
It happened just before 6:00 am. Five businesses were damaged, along with other vehicles.
Indianapolis firefighters had to dodge exploding gas cylinders when they arrived at the scene of the truck fire. According to the driver, he’d just picked up the trash at ACE Hardware when he noticed fire coming from the back of his truck. 
Although it’s protocol for the driver to drop the trash load during a fire, the driver was worried about nearby power lines and was unable to drop it so firefighters could put it out. The fire grew and additional crews were called in.
At that point, the first of five tanks that sit atop the truck exploded and firefighters ran for cover. Crews set up aerial operations. It took about an hour to get it under control.
 None of the affected businesses were open at time.
Marion County Public Health was called to the scene for run off and unidentified green substance which was later determined to be hydraulic fluid. The runoff was contained by fire crews.
The carbon fiber cylinders were holding 5 – 100 lb compressed natural gas. The impact of the explosion sent the tanks 50 feet to a quarter of a mile, with one landing in the front yard of Northview Middle School. No students were at school yet, and the school opened on time. One of the exploding tanks struck a nearby fence, while another landed in the parking lot of the Nora Shops. Debris struck the front window of a dry cleaners and also damaged a van in the Kroger parking lot. Debris also struck a firefighter in the helmet, knocking him into the bushes.
 Via Trash truck’s gas cylinders explode on city’s northeast side

These types of incidents are becoming increasingly common, especially as more and more companies and municipalities adopt the use of CNG fuel in their fleet vehicles.

The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with these vehicles, particularly learning how to recognize them and understanding the dangers they present.

One of the most important keys is to recognize the CNG sticker or designation that should be evident on most of these vehicles. While the exact design may vary slightly, depending on locale and manufacturer, the message is the same.


A notable amount of information is available on these vehicles and the fueling systems. A quick internet search for “compressed natural gas vehicle safety” will lead you to a number of industry organizations and associations that provide additional information on their websites.

Additionally, NFPA 52 is the Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code, which provides technical guidance on equipment installation, operation, and maintenance.


Water + Molten Steel = Massive Steam Explosion

When it comes to facilities handling molten steel and similar substances, firefighters must understand the implications of adding water during any fire suppression activities.

While the event described here was not directly related to an emergency response, this is an excellent example of what can result when water comes in contact with a high-temperature, high-density substance — which in turn, flash boils the water into a massive steam cloud. The expansion of the water into steam rapidly fills an area and can cause an explosion if contained within a compartment.

This is also why you will almost never see automatic sprinkler systems or other water-based suppression installed in facilities handling molten steel.

If you have facilities of this type in your area, be sure you are familiar with their emergency response plan and coordinate any response with their in-house safety personnel.


Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media


ATI steam explosion in Harrison rocked homes in four counties

No one was injured in an explosion Tuesday night near ATI Flat Rolled Products in Harrison that rattled homes miles away.

The explosion, along Karns Road just after 11 p.m., was caused by molten scrap metal hitting water at a work area outside of ATI’s plant, commonly known as ATI-Allegheny Ludlum, according to Harrison police and Dan Greenfield, an ATI spokesman.

The explosion was heard and felt widely.

“My house shook,” said Sande Shotts of Vandergrift, who is roughly 8 miles as the crow flies from the explosion.

ATI is investigating the explosion and damages, if any, according to Greenfield.

The explosion occurred at a work site along Karns Road where an ATI contractor was cleaning a slag pot that came out of the melt shop where the company melts scrap metal.

“Some of the molten metal came in contact with water and that caused the explosion,” Greenfield said.

Even a relatively small amount of molten steel hitting water will produce a lot of steam fast, according to Charles Jones, a lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Geology and Planetary Science.

Given the melting point of stainless steel is from 2,600 to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit, Jones said, that mixed with water, “it will produce a rapid increase in the volume of steam and produce an explosion.”

Brian Balta, a visiting professor at Pitt’s Department of Geology and Planetary Science, added: “Given that the metal was torn during the explosion, that would have made the explosion intensely felt.”

Greenfield said that the specifics of the explosion are under investigation.

“We want to make sure that what happened never occurs again,” he said.

via ATI steam explosion in Harrison rocked homes in four counties | TribLIVE.

Plane crashes into Florida warehouse, causes fire in explosives storage


A small plane crashed into a warehouse in Lakeland Thursday morning causing a massive fire, according to the FAA. Two people were on the plane.

The crash occurred around 8:20 a.m. at 5300 Allen K Breed Highway, a former plastics factory.

The building is owned by Key Safety Systems which manufactures automotive components. It was being used to store chemicals and powdered aluminum. It was unoccupied at the time of the crash and fire.

One of the chemicals is Nitroguanidine, which is used in automotive airbags. When dry, it is explosive. Because of the chemicals, firefighters were not able to enter the building after the blaze was contained. Hazmat crews were on the scene.

“Our firefighters have not gone in to recover any patients or bodies at this point because of the chemicals in there being so explosive,” explained Janell Vasallo, with Lakeland Fire Rescue.

More via Plane crashes into Lakeland warehouse and fire burns through former plastics factory –

Deaths at TV factory emphasize need for hazard awareness

Do you have a manufacturing facility in your first-due area that makes seemingly benign products? What could ever be deadly in a plant that makes household electronics?

An incident that occurred this week in South Korea emphasizes why it is very important for those working in these facilities to understand the implications of every action they take and to recognize and understand process hazards that could potentially cause serious injury or death. And that goes for emergency personnel who could find themselves making a response into such a facility.

Two people have been killed during an accident at an LG factory in South Korea.

The two men were carrying out routine maintenance when they were suffocated by a nitrogen leak in the room in which they worked.

In a statement LG said that four other workers were affected by the leak but their injuries were not life-threatening.

LG expressed regret over the incident and said it had begun an investigation.

In its statement, LG said the nitrogen leak occurred at a factory known as “P8″ that is in Paju city north of Seoul, that makes LCD screens for large TV sets. The factory is believed to have the world’s largest production line, making display panels for LCD and OLED TVs.

Nitrogen is used to wash the display panels during manufacturing.

LG said the accident was a “”terrible tragedy” and added that it was “working to uncover the exact sequence of events” that led to the deaths.

via BBC News – Two dead in LG TV factory accident.

Fire destroys Pennsylvania countertop business after spreading from parked truck; block heater suspected

(Photo Credit: KDKA)


A multiple alarm fire destroyed a Pennsylvania countertop manufacturer Tuesday night.

Blume’s Solid Surface Products is a company that makes stone counter tops and employed about two dozen people. It was destroyed when the flames broke out after 6 p.m.


The South Buffalo Fire Chief stated that it appeared two vehicles caught fire just outside the building, and flames extended from the vehicles to the back of the structure. One report stated that a block heater was active on one of the involved vehicles, indicating the equipment or power supply may have malfunctioned.

The chief also said there was a delay getting inside due to the building being secured.


It took nearly two dozen fire departments to be able to contain the blaze. Crews struggled with frozen hydrants and icy conditions on the grounds.

The main building that contained the solid surface, quartz and granite was destroyed. Another one of the buildings was saved.

via Fire Destroys South Buffalo Twp. Business « CBS Pittsburgh.

Two major lumberyard fires so far this week…

Overnight, firefighters battled the second major lumberyard fire to make national news this week. In Connecticut, 21 fire departments responded to help put out a massive blaze in the town of Cornwall.

Because of the high fire load with this type of fire, massive amounts of water were needed. Since the area is not served by hydrants, crews had to use tankers to shuttle water from the nearby Housatonic River. No injuries had been reported in the blaze, as the building still smoldered early Tuesday, according to a Litchfield County emergency official.


Photo via @FortWorthFire

Over the weekend, Texas firefighters battled a large lumberyard fire near Fort Worth, which heavily damaged the business.

Truck 14 set up on lumber yard fire on E Lancaster



Fan likely caused $300,000 fire at PA manufactured housing plant

A malfunctioning fan likely sparked a fire that destroyed three homes under construction at a manufactured housing plant in Pennsylvania. A division general manager for the company said the fire destroyed two modular homes and one manufactured home all less than 2,000 square feet in size.

The fire call was initially reported as an automatic fire alarm. The call was upgraded to a building fire when arriving units saw smoke pouring from the building.

The alarms and sprinklers worked properly, officials said. The sprinkler system did not allow flames to spread from the burning home and limited water damage to two bays in the 170,000-square-foot building.

Skyline Building Fire
Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

via Fan likely caused $300,000 fire at Skyline Homes in Leola – LancasterOnline: Local News.

Happy New Year!

I want to take a moment to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope you had a great Christmas season and enjoyed time with family and friends throughout the holidays.

You may have noticed that other responsibilities have pulled me away from this page and my site in the past month or two. It seems we get so much happening in our lives, and sometimes there are things that just have to take a back burner, whether we like it or not. Year-end activity for my day job kept me hopping, and I had some unexpected family challenges. Beyond that, about two weeks ago, I sat for the Certified Safety Professional exam and successfully earned my designation. This was a long road of several years, which culminated with several weeks of doing nothing but studying prior to my test date. Once that was behind me, I slipped into decompression mode and just kicked back to enjoy the holiday season.

I have several items on tap for the coming year. One of my key goals is to get more user feedback and input on the items we share here on the site. I try to share things here, as well as on the Facebook page and on Twitter. Sometimes one form of media just works out better for me than another. If you are not following in all three locations, you may be missing some important information. If you have an incident of your own, or if you run across an incident that you think would be good for sharing and discussion on Not Just Another Fire, please send me an email, Facebook message, or tweet it to me.

I look forward to sharing much more with you in the near future, and as always, I appreciate all of your interest and support!

Indiana crews work to save piglets from overturned tractor-trailer

Not a fire, but an interesting situation Thursday night for a central Indiana fire department. A livestock semi tractor-trailer hauling nearly 2,100 piglets from North Carolina to Iowa overturned along Interstate-465 in the Indianapolis area. Crews worked nearly 4 hours to save as many animals as possible by offloading into other trucks, which hauled surviving pigs to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for shelter for the night. As shown below, final estimates were in the range of 700 animals lost in the incident.





Employees evacuated after dust collector catches fire

Photo Courtesy Fond du Lac Fire Department's Twitter page

FOND DU LAC (WITI) — The Fond du Lac Fire Department was called out to Mercury Marine on Monday afternoon, November 10th after a dust collector system caught fire.

Fire officials say Plant 98 at Mercury Marine had to be evacuated after plant personnel reported a fire occurred in a dust collection system connected to the building.

The automatic fire sprinkler activated and the fire was extinguished.

“The fire suppression system worked as designed and kept the fire contained to the dust collector” Fond du Lac Fire Chief Peter O’Leary said.

The fire was contained to the dust collector and didn’t cause any structural damage.

No one was injured.

Mercury Marine personnel were eventually able to re-enter the building.

via Employees evacuated from Mercury Marine after dust collector system catches fire |

Photo Courtesy Fond du Lac Fire Department on Twitter at @fdlfire