Hydrogen Tank Blast Forces Evac

Thursday, August 30, 2018 @ 05:08 PM gHale

A fireball of hydrogen gas erupted from a tank, damaging the tank truck and prompting evacuations at several businesses, schools and homes in El Cajon, CA, Wednesday morning.

No one was injured, and the large tank, used to haul 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen, did not explode, officials said.

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The blast of gas did make a large, explosive noise, officials said.

However, because of the danger of a blast while gas vented from the tank, employees quickly evacuated from Veridiam, an industrial business where the truck parked and off-loaded the hydrogen, Heartland Fire and Rescue spokesman Mark Casey said.

The truck was backed up to an even larger tank at Veridiam.

About 150 students at Idea Center High School, Chaparral High School and Merit Academy evacuated to the gymnasium at Grossmont High School to be reunited with their parents, Grossmont Union High School District spokeswoman Catherine Martin said.

She said classes were cancelled for the rest of the day.

Heartland fire dispatchers got reports around 8:10 a.m. of an explosion and fire involving a hydrogen truck on West Bradley Avenue, just south of Gillespie Field. The correct location turned out to be next to Veridiam on Cuyamaca Street, Casey said.

Sheriff’s deputies helped people leave businesses and residences within a two-block radius, and Cuyamaca was blocked between West Bradley and Billy Mitchell Drive. Several trolley lines were rerouted during the incident.

San Diego city and county HazMat teams were sent to the scene.

Fire officials said the liquid hydrogen was being delivered to Veridiam and pumped from the truck’s tank to a tank alongside the business.

Veridiam’s website says it manufactures metal tubing and components used in medical, dental, nuclear and industrial parts. Veridiam is a customer of a chemical company known as Linde.

The truck drivers told fire officials the gas was venting through a safety valve. A ball of flame damaged only the truck, Heartland Battalion Chief Chris Case said.

“Some malfunction caused the safety valve to release,” Case said.

Crews shut one or more valves at the tank to stop the leak. The threat of danger had ended by 10:30 a.m.



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