Friday, January 7, 2011

Disaster Status: Part 3/3

Another Real-Life Incident

I was on-shift the night an industrial hazardous waste plant burst into flames. I obviously have all the inside information, but it won’t be released to the public, so I’m sorry to say I can’t share most of it with you. What I can say – inside the facility, stored toxic material ignited. The fire quickly grew to a plume of smoke then the entire facility erupted into a fireball with several rapid fire explosions. This swift and extreme domino of events occurred simply because the burning toxic chemicals were stored right next to oxygen cylinders, and oxygen feeds fire. You guessed it, properly stored O2 is essential. 


The reverse 911 system was activated – recorded messages called all nearby residents, warning them to evacuate. View the photos included here – it was an intense explosion and the burning toxic chemicals created a massive haz-mat situation. The chemicals involved in that explosion react negatively when mixed with water, so we were forced to allow the fire to burn itself out. Two days post the onset of the incident, a foam application extinguished the remaining flames.

Even though this makes for boring fiction, emergency agencies that night proved pre-planning and inter-agency training and execution results in excellent emergency incident response outcome. My crew along with many other emergency crews, successfully worked the potentially deadly incident – no loss of life and only minor exposure issues occurred. But think of the endless possible dramas that could’ve happened.

Thank you in advance for reading and for your participation and comments. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Photos are courtesy of Apex Fire Department.

After majoring in communications and enjoying a successful career as a travel agent, Dianna Torscher Benson left the travel industry to write novels and earn her EMS degree. A EMT and Haz-Mat Ops in Wake County, NC, Dianna loves the adrenaline rush of responding to medical emergencies and helping people in need, often in their darkest time in life. Her suspense novels about characters who are ordinary people thrown into tremendous circumstances, provide readers with a similar kind of rush. Married to her best friend, Leo, she met her husband when they walked down the aisle as a bridesmaid and groomsmen at a wedding when she was eleven and he was thirteen. They live in North Carolina with their three children. Visit her website at 

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