Fire Officials, Residents Recall 5-Alarm Fire At OKC Chemical Plant

Tuesday, July 24th 2012, 9:43 pm
By: News 9

A five-alarm chemical fire Tuesday afternoon had as many as 80 firefighters fighting flames, toxic smoke, as well as 100 degree heat.

7/24/2012 Related Story: OKC Firefighters Extinguish Five-Alarm Fire At Chemical Plant

Oklahoma City fire officials say the blaze originated on a forklift inside Bachman Services, on the 2200 block of the I-35 Service Road.

Bachman is a supplier of chemicals used in oil fields. Fire officials say more than 100 chemicals were being stored in the building.

Lacretia Roberts lives two blocks south of the plant. She says the smoke smelled toxic.

"It stunk bad. It was pretty rank," said Roberts. "It was hard to breathe when you walked out, very hard."

The fire department called for an evacuation of businesses and homes in the area.

"We were in the process of working with police as far as evacuating, have as high a hazard there," Fire Chief Marc Woodward said.

Roberts was one of several people who were evacuated after the blaze began, but fire officials say they called off the evacuation a short time later, because they were able to get the fire under control.

Roberts said she remembers someone speeding by the front of her house, shortly after hearing the explosions.

"They were honking. My daughter stepped outside, and she said ‘you need to leave the neighborhood.' They didn't say who they were," Roberts said.

But there was still a large hazard. Firefighters battled not only hundred degree temperatures and hazardous chemicals, they did it carrying 45 to 50 pounds of gear strapped to their back. And when they got breaks, they had to take that gear off so they could be de-contaminated.

No one was hurt, but EMSA says it treated three civilians for heat exhaustion.

Backman Services released the following statement Tuesday:

Bachman Services would like to express its deepest gratitude for the outstanding response of the Oklahoma City Fire Department, the Storm Water Department and the Red Cross at the fire that occurred at our plant today. We are so thankful that no one was injured and that all of our employees, neighbors and those that responded from these agencies are safe. We are also so appreciative of the quick response of our employees in addressing this situation to insure not only their own safety, but also that of their fellow employees, the general public and the responding agencies. We are truly a company family. We are cooperating with all local, state and federal agencies in their assessment of the fire. Plans are already in place to insure that we continue to meet the service needs of our customers and continue our operations as we begin to rebuild our plant.