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Building/Chemical Fire - Bethany Bay
Wednesday, November 23, 2005

On Wednesday November 23rd at around 11am the Millville, Bethany Beach and Roxana VFCs along with the Sussex County Paramedics were dispatched to a reported building fire at the Bethany Bay Development in Millville. Initial report from the Sussex EOC was that the building had chemicals stored within and it was reportedly a working alarm. Command 84 (84-8) arrived at 11:04 to find a 12x14 block shed with smoke showing. 3rd Asst Chief Temple established the Command and reduced the assignment to Millville and Bethany units while moving Roxanas 2 Engines to a cover assignment in Millville. Command made contact with the site workers and they provided a Binder that had several of the MSDS sheets for the stored chemicals. After a review of the materials it was determined that water would be an effective agent to extinguish the fire. Upon E84-2's arrival they were instructed to pull an 1-3/4 handline to the upwind side and make an attack. 70-8 with Captain Murray arrived and was assigned the Operations. Due to the building only having a small 2x2 louvered vent a vertical vent hole was cut in the roof by Quint 70's crew to aid in ventilation. A Positive Pressure Fan was also utilized to help keep the smoke away from blowing back on members while they operated. After the initial attack the fire was rapidly extinguished, however a bright yellow smoke was starting to thicken from the materials that had been burning. All units were withdrawn to a staging area where everyone involved in the fire operations were grossly decontaminated. SCEMS Haz Med Officer Fred Hass provided the county's TOMAR Hazardous Materials Computer for further research of the chemicals. DNREC and the DSFS were also contacted and provided information that would eventually lead to the mitigation of the incident. Another agent recommended for the extinguishment/containment was to cover the products with foam. This was also attempted with no success and the smoke becoming heavier. Finally it was agreed by all consulting agencies that the products should be covered with sand to limit the run off potential as well as smothering the remaining chemical reaction between the exposed mixed products. A tractor with a bucket was used to bring in two loads of sand that was placed as a dike in front of the door as well as being placed on top of the products. This method was by far the most productive and stopped the smoking almost immediately. All firefighters involved in the operations were decontaminated again before returning to service. The scene was turned over to the Delaware State FMO for investigation into the cause and also DNREC for the recommended site clean up. The products inside the building were pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers all of which have a very low health risk. Units responding; 84-8, E84-2, E84-1, TC-84, 70-8, Quint 70, Rescue70, E70-2, TC-70, B84, M105, EMS100, MazMed1, FM10, DNREC 4, FS-1, E90-1, E90-5

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