A recent truck explosion in Santa Paula sent more than two-dozen people to local hospitals for toxic fume exposure.
According to fire officials, two workers at Santa Clara Waste Water Co. were removing 1,200 gallons of a chemical with a vacuum truck when the truck blew up. Officials said the explosion released the chemical into the air, which caused chemical fumes to injure people nearby.
Unfortunately, a truck explosion such as this is more common than most people realize. Sometimes the explosion itself will cause immediate injuries, or even death, to those near the disaster. But fewer think about the consequences of dangerous chemicals in the air that cause anything from burning eyes or skin to permanent respiratory failure.
When the chemical hit the air in the recent Santa Paula truck explosion, it crystallized and became combustible. That caused the explosion, officials said. Then, the chemical radiated for at least 300 feet in the air. Smaller flare-ups ensued, and authorities ordered all agricultural ranches and businesses within a mile radius of the explosion to evacuate.
Officials said firefighters were required to pull back because their shoes sparked explosions as they walked on the dried chemical. Because the type of chemical was not known at the time, the fire was allowed to burn without water until it extinguished itself. The occupant of the truck and three firefighters were transported to a nearby hospital.
Those nearby, including medical personnel and first responders, sought medical attention. According to a spokeswoman for the Ventura County Medical Center, complaints included difficulty breathing and burning eyes. A nearby elementary school, canine adoption center and local highways remained closed.
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