Toxic fire in Santa Cruz, December 15, 2011

El Dia reports on December 16, 2011 of a fire that lasted over dour hours to be put out:

Deposits of a multinational oil company with highly toxic chemicals burned in flames in the southern part of the city. There are no injured people; However, inhalation of these gases could affect the health of residents nearby.

Fire started around 15.00. The phones of the different units of firefighters began to ring insistently. The fire had started in the facilities of Halliburton. There was alarm in the market of El Bosque, neighborhood residents feared that the fire might spread to their homes.

Police and firemen arrived on the scene began the evacuation of the people inhabiting the adjacent houses to the depot. “The alarm was activated at 15:30.” “There are more than 10 firefighter cars trying to extinguish the flames,” said Karina Gadea, Chief of staff of municipal firefighters.

All attended the call. Virtually all fire units responded to the call for help. They were those of the police, the municipal, Udem and volunteers; but nevertheless it was difficult to control the fire. “It is hard work, all of the city firefighters vehicles are there but we need more help.” “If it is possible to bring water tankers, said Ricardo Meruvia, fire chief of the civilian units.

Up to 21:00 more than 60 thousand liters of water had been used.

Despair among relatives. As the flames, which reached more than 30 meters in height, consumed the barn and the chemists of the deposit that Halliburton uses in its operations, despair of loosing family was reported by people who found out about the fire while at work.

“My brother lives in the house on the side, I just want to know if he is OK.” “I learned because I called another brother who is out in the country side,” explained between sobbing, Clementina Ribera.

Emilce Arias, another of those affected, was still with tears in her eyes but calmer, while she was on her way home, she was told over the phone that her mother-in-law and her son had been evacuated from the site. “they are safe already, but hope the fire is controlled so that it doesn’t harm my house which is in front of the company”, said.

Some neighbors announced that they will request the company to transfer this deposit to a more remote place.

With synthetic foam. Close to 17:00, the Governors Office reported that the water was not being effective to control the fire and to avoid the emanation of chemical gas, so they turned to Ansulite, a synthetic foam that prevents the spread of chemical gas.”It is essential, we need to put out the fire and avoid the side effects on the residents,” said Rossi.

Two hours later, the flames began to be controlled, although until the close of this edition firefighters continued working in the total shutdown of fire. “We will have to use sand because we have found new chemicals and water will not help in the shutdown of fire,” explained Rossi.

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