Chemical fire erupts in Glass community; 2 firefighters airlifted
Posted: Thursday, June 2, 2011 8:56 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Two firefighters had to be airlifted to Memphis and some 15 houses in the Glass community west of Obion had to be evacuated Wednesday when a farm truck pulling a spreader buggy filled with ammonium nitrate caught fire, spreading toxic fumes in the area.
Firefighters Paul Duren and Jonathan Tolley with the Obion Volunteer Fire Department were transported by helicopter to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis after they were overcome by fumes from the ammonium nitrate, according to Obion Fire Chief Jamie Evans.
Both men were listed in stable condition today, according to Evans, who checked on their condition this morning.
Tolley was scheduled to be released from the Memphis hospital today, but due to complications with Duren’s condition he will be kept there another night, according to Evans.
Ammonium nitrate is used as a high nitrogen fertilizer, but is also highly combustible and very toxic.
It was about 10 a.m. Wednesday when Obion firefighters were called to a field off Ben Morris Road in the Glass community, according to Evans.
He said a farm truck owned by the Obion Grain Co. was being driven by Kane Stacks. He had pulled off into the field when it is suspected a mechanical fire broke out in the truck, causing the ammonium nitrate to catch fire, Evans said.
Stacks was not injured in the incident, according to Evans.
A reported explosion at the scene is suspected to have been caused by the tires blowing up, Evans told The Messenger.
Also on the scene in addition to the seven firefighters from Obion were members of the Obion County Rescue Squad, Obion County Sheriff’s Department and Hornbeak Fire Department. An air monitoring crew from the Union City Fire Department arrived on the scene about 2 p.m. Wednesday and set up an air monitoring system, according to Fire Chief Kelly Edmison.
He explained that his firefighters dressed out in Tyvek® chemical suits and self-contained breathing apparatus before placing three air monitoring boxes around the fire site.
Evans explained when the ammonium nitrate caught fire it began “off gassing” nitric acid.
The truck was actually pulled into a field about 500 yards west of the Glass community.
Officials on the scene blocked off a one-mile radius around the truck and set up roadblocks during the incident.
Evans told The Messen-ger that John McDaniel, 49, of the Glass community ignored the roadblock and drove through the scene, striking him.
“He hit me and threw me up onto the hood of his car,” Evans said. He told The Messenger he was not seriously injured.
McDaniel was arrested on the scene and charged with two counts of reckless endangerment. He was transported to the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex, where he was scheduled to be arraigned today at 1 p.m.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 6.2.11