An explosion at a chemical manufacturing plant in Fresno, California caused a three-alarm fire on Friday night.
According to Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Todd Tuggle, the fire was reported around 10 p.m. at General Coatings Manufacturing, which sells foam insulation and other coating products.
The explosion occurred as firefighters were hosing down the flames.
“There was a fireball that erupted at them. They described it as a concussion grenade,” Tuggle said. “The sound was enormous. There was an extremely loud explosion that happened in front of them.”
On Saturday, the Fresno Bee reported that the chemical that caught fire was a fire retardant designed to suppress flames.
The chemical is usually kept warm by a machine. Investigators believe that the system malfunctioned, which caused several barrels to overheat and catch fire.
To minimize exposure to the chemical, firefighters were rotated. Many of the firefighters had to be hosed down and remove their clothing because of contaminants.
The firefighters that were exposed had to be stripped down and washed off outside where the temperature had dropped to 39 degrees.
According to Tuggle, there were four fire crews inspected for contamination.
“It was a very dangerous moment for a brief period while our teams regrouped and we brought in additional resources,” Tuggle said.
After putting out the fire, firefighters dug up dirt and used it to create a barrier to prevent the toxic water from trickling into the storm drains where it could spread contamination.
There were no injuries reported.