April 18, 2013
The cause of the fertilizer factory explosion in West, TX is still unknown, but chemicals in the fertilizer did play a part in the expansion of the fire.
The chemical found in fertilizer, ammonium nitrate, can be used to create explosive devices, so if a fire were to start around that chemical there could be a pretty big explosion as was seen in TX.
The Charlottesville Fire Chief explained that a fire of that size is not likely here in the Commonwealth, but he gives some examples of potential hazards that use gas and chemicals like the ammonium nitrate.
"A propane gas tanker overturned or something that on a train that's containing some type of material like liquid propane, which could cause something called a boiling liquid expansion vapor explosion (BLEVE)," says Chief Charles Werner.
"The big thing here is just when things like this do occur we have to come together as a community and people have to be thinking now, as all the weather that's coming our way, of being prepared."
Chief Werner explained that chemical fires are difficult to put out, because there is a risk of leaking more chemicals.
He also explained that explosions from a propane tank are big, but could still not create the same size explosion that was seen at the fertilizer factory.