A vacuum truck exploded in California, sending 15 people to the hospital on Tuesday morning. According to the New York Daily News, the truck went up in flames at the Santa Clara Waste Water Company in Santa Paula. Over 50 firefighters were called to the scene, which was getting worse by the minute. A chemical substance was released after the initial explosion, causing various other explosions around the industrial yard.
— LACoFD (@LACo_FD) November 18, 2014
“A white liquid, first believed to be sewage, quickly spread and crystallized, becoming combustible as it spread through the industrial yard. Explosions spread the fire to surrounding containers, sending billowing black smoke into the sky.”
The vacuum truck that exploded was used to “suction up industrial waste.” Officials believe that the substance coming out of the truck was organic peroxide. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, organic peroxide can be harmful to the body if the substance is inhaled, comes in contact with a person’s eyes or skin, or is swallowed. It is so powerful that it can destroy metals.
The organic, carbon-containing compound can form spontaneously, which might have been the case in Santa Paula. The extent of the injuries suffered by those who were hospitalized is unknown at this time. Reports say that three firefighters were among the 15 who were admitted to nearby hospitals. Several hospital workers were treated for respiratory distress.
The vacuum truck explosion was not so easily to handle for emergency personnel. According to NewsMax, Capt. Mike Lindberry, of the Ventura County Fire Department, said that the chemical was “water reactive” which prohibited the use of water hoses to extinguish the flames.
“Right now, we are letting the areas on fire burn down,” he said at the time. The fire was eventually under control, and crews have been starting to clean up the area… carefully.
— Ventura County (@ventura101) November 18, 2014
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation to anyone who lived within a mile of the yard. Those living in a two to three-mile radius were asked to “shelter in place” until further notice. The Red Cross opened a shelter, and has welcomed anyone who has been displaced by this blast.
Police are still investigating the cause of the explosion.
[Photo courtesy of NBC Bay Area / Twitter]