Firefights got quite the surprise when they went to put a fire out during an exercise back in October. It turns out, the huge ball of fire that erupted was the result of jet fuel being sprayed all over the fire instead of the intended water.
The exercise was supposed to demonstrate the best ways to put out a fire resulting from an airplane crash as well as how to save as many lives as possible. The firefighter academy had set up a mock crash leaving an airplane on fire in the middle of a clearing.
When the fire started to get out of control, firefighters moved in to suppress the fire from getting any bigger. To their surprise, when they turned their hoses on, it immediately made the fire bigger instead of smaller, creating a curtain of fire anywhere they aimed the hose.
The academy uses a device that recycles the water used in training exercises by filtering out any fuel and oil called a separator. In the video, when the truck filled with the “separated” water began hosing the fire down, you can hear spectating firefighters scream, “That’s fuel,” and demand the firefighters shut the hose down.
Bob Calkins of the State Patrol stated that, “When the firefighters put water on a fire that had been deliberately developed for training, the fire got bigger instead of smaller.” He goes on to mention that “We’re having outside experts come look at both the incident itself, and our oil water separator to see what we need to do to make this safe for everybody.”
The investigative experts are trying to determine if the incident was a result of the separator malfunctioning, the firefighters who were operating the separator, or both.
Two firefighters have suffered from minor burns resulting from the incident.