Another city torched house full of dangerous chemicals 13 years ago

Louisville is checking with other cities to make sure the plan to burn down 6213 Applegate is done safely.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - City leaders have announced plans to burn a home on Applegate Lane in Highview, saying it’s the safest way to get rid of the chemicals inside.

The city has not released a list of those chemicals, but it’s asking other cities with similar experiences how to do this burn safely.

13 years ago, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office in California was called to a home after a gardener stepped on an explosive.

It turned out to be a byproduct of unstable explosives used in terrorist attacks and the home was full of it.

Officials there decided the only way to defuse what became known as the “bomb house” was to burn it down.

“Looking not only what went good, but what went bad,” Louisville Metro Emergency Management Director Jody Meiman said. “What they wanted to improve from their operation to maybe prevent us from having any problems here.”

He said Louisville is checking with other cities to make sure the plan to burn down 6213 Applegate is done safely. The home is full of trash and gallons of at least 20 different hazardous chemicals. Louisville leaders said on Tuesday that it’s too dangerous for people and impossible for robots to clear the dangerous chemicals.

“The only way to safely proceed is to incinerate the chemical inside the home by setting a planned, monitored and controlled burn,” Mayor Craig Greenberg said.

California officials set a house known as the bomb house ablaze in 2010. A gardener had gotten hurt after stepping on explosive chemicals outside. Police would find more explosive chemicals and bomb-making ingredients inside.

They held public meetings and planned for three weeks before burning the home.

A 16-foot firewall covered in gel was used to protect nearby homes.

Air monitoring took place during the burn.

Bomb technicians scoured through the ash after and contractors sprayed it down before trucking it away.

“They’re bringing in those subject-matter experts as well to, as you said, determine what happens when the small quantities of chemicals we have, what happens when they’re exposed to heat,” Meiman said.

California officials evacuated part of the neighborhood before their burn. People who stayed home were told to keep their windows closed, keep their air conditioning off and not use their clothes dryer.

Louisville will be holding public information sessions with the neighborhood as city leaders begin finalizing plans.

A spokesperson for Governor Andy Beshear said the National Guard, Energy and Environment Cabinet, and State Emergency Management have all been made available to help Louisville.