Firefighters averted a potentially major disaster in Barrow County on Monday morning by quickly extinguishing fires in a tractor-trailer that reportedly was carrying a large load of ammonium nitrate.
Ammonium nitrate is used in fertilizer but also is used in bombs and becomes explosive when it catches on fire in a confined area.
Lt. Scott Dakin, spokesman for Barrow County Emergency Services, on Tuesday refused to confirm what type of material was in the trailer. But he did say it was a type of explosive, and he confirmed the newspaper's information that the incident occurred at 1172 Finch Road, which is the site of an explosives company called Powderman Products LLC.
According to a BCES press release, the 911 emergency call was at 7:35 a.m. on Dec. 30. Six firefighters on two fire engines and a med unit responded, along with a battalion chief. They found heavy fire in the cab of the truck. The exterior of the truck had a symbol indicating it was carrying explosives, a source said.
After getting the cab fire under control, the firefighters opened the trailer and looked inside. There they found a small fire on the far end of multiple containers of explosive. Literally risking their lives, they put out the second fire that likely was caused by the heat from the original blaze.
Added interim fire chief John Skinner in the department's Dec. 31 press release: “They risked their own lives to bring the fire under control in order to prevent the cargo from exploding and creating a larger disaster. I am very proud of the dedication of the men and women in this department and this call is a great example of why.”
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