Homes in Laurel evacuated during chemical fire

August 01, 1999|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A two-alarm fire among barrels of chemicals in two trailers parked at the Safety Kleen company in the 3500 block of Whiskey Bottom Road in Laurel forced the evacuation of approximately 90 homes in the Russett Green development yesterday, according to Anne Arundel County fire officials.

The first alarm was sounded at 8: 51 a.m., when the two trailers caught fire and their cargo of 55-gallon drums of acids, hydrocarbons and various toxins began exploding into towering fireballs, said fire Capt. Allan Graves. The explosions continued for close to an hour, producing a thick blanket of smoke that drifted over the Russett Green development.

Firefighters first decided to let the fire burn out, but about 12: 30 p.m. the toxic smoke began drifting toward more neighborhoods, and firefighters extinguished the blaze with a foam flame retardant.

One firefighter was treated at Laurel Hospital for heat exhaustion.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes at 1: 30 p.m.

Officials at Safety Kleen, a company that repackages and sends hazardous material to a disposal site, were not available to comment.

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