SPFD Firefighters released from VCMC, peroxide explosion still burning

November 18, 2014
Santa Paula News

Three Santa Paula firefighters were on their way home at about 11 a.m. Tuesday but a fire at a sewage pipeline outside the city is still a matter of concern for officials.

Evacuations continue to be in place within a 1-mile radius of Santa Clara Waste Water Company where a vacuum truck exploded this morning when reportedly being loaded with a highly flammable and toxic organic peroxide at about 3:45 a.m.

Santa Paula Engine Company 82 was the first responder on the scene of the explosion that occurred at 815 Mission Rock Road, in an industrial park south of Highway 126 just west of Briggs Road.

One man was transported to the hospital and the other refused treatment but later was taken to Ventura County Medical Center where other first responders were also taken complaining or burning eyes and/or breathing problems.

Santa Paula Fire personnel were reportedly transported to VCMC where a decontamination unit was activated for first responders as well as hospital workers at about 7 a.m.

Shortly before 8 a.m. power was temporarily shut off due to concerns that a vapor cloud that formed in the wake of the approximately 1,000 gallon spill might ignite if it came in contact with electrical lines.

The cloud did ignite at about 8:30 a.m. engulfing in flame two buildings on the scene, including one that reportedly held more oxidizer material.

Highway 126 was shut down from Wells to Peck roads and Briggs and Olivelands schools were closed; a Red Cross shelter was activated at Santa Paula Community Center for those within a 1-mile radius of the explosion and those up to 3 miles from the evacuation boundary were advised to stay inside and shelter in place.

According to Santa Paula Fire Chief Rick Araiza those firefighters released must remain under observation for 48 hours; their equipment was kept at VCMC for further decontamination.

Due to the highly volatile nature of the organic peroxide there was damage to Engine 82s tires when it responded to the scene of what was first reported to involve sewage and not dangerous chemicals.

Santa Paula Fire Engine 82, Is still down there, said Fire Chief Rick Araiza, we dont know the extent of the damage but were relieved our firefighters seem to be all right.

In all, estimates are that about 18 people have been treated for exposure to the chemical at VCMC and others have reportedly been seeking treatment at other medical facilities.

Fighting such a fire is extremely difficult and depending on the exact compound can require large amounts of a dry extinguishers.

Details of how the fire will be extinguished have not yet been released.

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