Home Fire News Sulfur produces mesmerizing blue flame in Wyoming while gassing off toxic fumes

Sulfur produces mesmerizing blue flame in Wyoming while gassing off toxic fumes

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In a scene that looks more computer generated than reality, bluish moving flames are seen dancing in Wyoming’s darkness.

This strange scene is what Worland, Wyoming Volunteer Fire Department Chief Chris Kocher discovered after responding to a call of a “blue glow” Friday in a rural area off Highway 20 North.

In the video, which has been viewed almost 2 million times, posted by the fire department, flames are seen moving quickly across the surface, sometimes rising up into the air. Although it’s quite spectacular to watch — the fumes coming from the fire can be very dangerous. According to The Washington Post, if a person breathes the smoke, it can harm the lungs and even can cause death.

The Washington Post reports the video’s blue fire originates from a burning sulfur mound and says the sulfur burning in this video is what remains from a sulfur plant that operated in the area in the 1950s, according to the Worland Fire Department.

According to the fire department’s post, burning sulfur creates sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas that has a very strong, choking odor.

The fire was burning in a “bowl” shaped area … allowing all runoff to be collected in the fire area, the post reads.  A minimal amount of water was used to cool the surface of the sulfur and reduce the temperature below the molten stage. Adding water to an SO2 gas creates sulfurous acid, (not to be confused with sulfuric acid) which can be related to “acid rain”.

The fire department said that although a sulfur fire is not common, they have the training and understanding needed to handle the situation.

Kocher can be heard breathing in the video because he’s wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), which is why he sounds like ‘Darth Vader,’ according to The Washington Post.

The beeping noise is part of the SCBA design. When a firefighter is inert for an extended period of time, the apparatus beeps. If the firefighter continues to stay still — signaling possible distress — it beeps very loudly to alert other firefighters there may be a first responder in danger.

 

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