Firefighters averted a major disaster in Barrow County last week by quickly extinguishing two fires in a tractor-trailer that 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, refused to confirm what type of material was in the trailer that caught fire on Dec. 30. 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. The owner of the property is Controlled Blasting LLC, which is one of the largest rock drilling and blasting contractors in Georgia and is located at 1159 Finch Road.
According to a BCES press release, the E-911 Center received a call about a commercial vehicle on fire at 7:35 a.m. Monday, Dec. 30.
An unofficial source said shortly after the first fire engine was dispatched, the battalion commander received word that the burning vehicle had explosives in its trailer. The commander rushed to the scene and called for a second two-man engine to be dispatched. A med unit with two additional cross-trained firefighters also was dispatched.
When they arrived, the six county firefighters and commander found heavy fire in the cab of the truck. The exterior of the truck had a symbol confirming it carries explosives.
After getting the cab fire under control, the firefighters opened the trailer and looked inside. There they found a small fire of smoldering embers on the far end of multiple containers of explosive material. Literally risking their lives, they put out the second fire that likely was caused by the heat from the original blaze.