Fire still burning at Rubbertown plant 3 days after explosions - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Fire still burning at Rubbertown plant 3 days after explosions

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Smoke still billowed from Carbide Industries in Rubbertown one day after an explosion rocked the plant. Smoke still billowed from Carbide Industries in Rubbertown one day after an explosion rocked the plant.
An explosion in the Carbide Industries heavily damaged this furnace tower on March 21. It's not yet known if it's a total loss. An explosion in the Carbide Industries heavily damaged this furnace tower on March 21. It's not yet known if it's a total loss.

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Three days after the explosion at Carbide Industries, a fire was still burning inside the plant Thursday according to Lake Dreamland Fire District Assistant Chief Jody Meiman.

The fire, mainly a mineral oil fire, is burning itself on the third level of the five structure building.  Crews, for the most part, have not been able to actually get inside due to safety concerns.

Crews say that time is the biggest asset in fighting the fire.

"The fire has greatly diminished even from last night so we're going to go in and try to see what we can do to try to get to that and completely stop it from burning anymore," said Meiman.

The location of the fire and the scope of what's required to fight it is hampering their efforts.

"The fire is on the third level which fairly high in the air so to get the dry powder to the fire at that level is a task in itself," Meiman said. "These are 150-pound, wheeled units and just to get those to that level, you may have a group of firefighters and that's their only task is to get it to that level."

Fire officials can't declare if the five-story furnace building is a total loss, but it is heavily damaged.

"There's a lot of debris, there's a lot of damage, there are a lot of things misplaced," Meiman said. "There are concrete walls blown out."

Firefighters have remained at the plant around the clock fight the hot spots and make sure they don't spread or impact the neighborhood. A handful of workers were back on the job in other parts of the campus, scrambling to fill orders.

The EPA, OSHA, and the U. S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) are all on the scene investigating.

"Our mission and our charter from congress is to identify significant lessons that industry can take away from these tragic accidents," said John Vorderbrueggen with the U. S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

They've been limited in what they can get at this time since the fire is still burning. 

"We are looking at photos that they have taken so we're gather raw data now and this morning we're starting interviews with employees," said Vorderbrueggen.

The CSB is merely collecting information; it doesn't issue fines or punishments.

"OSHA is an enforcer and the EPA is an enforcer; we actually make recommendations - that's our final product in our report is recommendations," Vorderbrueggen said.

What has happened at the Louisville plant may eventually end up as a global training tool to prevent it from happening again anywhere.

"We actually create a video and reanimate what happened in those incidents where we do a full on investigation. Those videos are being used worldwide for training tools for operations personnel and emergency personnel and emergency responders," Vorderbrueggen said.

The CSB will likely be on the scene throughout the weekend.  Their report could take up to two years to finish, and will then be made public.


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