News 9 continues to follow a fracking operation fire that happened east of Chickasha Wednesday. A lot of damage was reported and crews are still working on a crane that could cause another spark.
The fire may be out, but fire crews are looking at another problem. Their bunker gear is soaked with hazardous fluids making it too flammable to wear for other emergency calls.
“I called earlier about a fire on the east side of Chickasha, OK.”
“We’re trying to ping exactly where you’re at. Do you have any other cross street besides 62 and 39?”
It didn't matter where it was. This fire could be seen 20 miles away.
“We’re going to get them headed there.”
Crews from all over the county showed up and fought a raging fire that was fueled by oil and diesel.
“It created a whole lot hotter fire when it’s mixed with diesel,” Grady County Fire Chief Perry Wenzel said.
County crews blame equipment failure that sparked and ignited everything in sight, including 22 fracking trucks. That alone is nearly a $2-million loss. They were charred and stripped of nothing but black soot and chemical remnants, and so is the bunker gear worn by firefighters who attacked the blaze. It is a barrier of protection from toxins and deadly heat. Crews were saturated in the oil and diesel mixture.
“It’s going to burn,” Wenzel said.
This is the first time crews have worn this gear. It was bought after their old gear was ruined in another frack site fire a few months earlier. They applied for a FEMA grant to replace it, and it happened again.
Wenzel said if firefighters got close enough to fire or the conditions heated up enough, the gear could have caught fire.
If they have to respond to any other calls, they do have some old gear that wasn't ruined. The department will send the new gear to a Dallas company to see if it can be cleaned and salvaged.
Each set will cost about $200 to clean and $1,700 to replace. More than 50 firefighters responded to the incident.