On April 30, 2019, Southern Manatee Fire Rescue was requested via the Regional Security Domestic Taskforce Hazmat Coordinator to provide hazardous materials assistance to Highland County Fire Rescue District. Highland County Fire Rescue and several fire agencies were on scene in the 11000 block of Twitty Road in Sebring, Florida at a large industrial fire.
The company located at the address was a local Propane distribution company that recycled, restored, and filled 20 lbs. propane bottles for local distributors in the area. The building and adjacent property upon their arrival had heavy fire conditions with multiple exposures from rupturing propane cylinders on April 29, 2019.
SMFR provided 4 personnel at the request of the incident commander to respond and assist with operations on April 30th starting at 0800 hours. SMFR responded with 1 Hazmat Specialist, 2 Hazmat Technicians, and 1 UAS/ Drone Operator. Upon our arrival on scene, SMFR conducted UAS/ Drone operations and completed a working diagram for the Incident Commander that provided locations of all hazard areas and damage assessments. Container evaluations were completed using UAS/Drone thermal operations that pinpointed critical areas in need of salvage and overhaul operations. It was estimated that up to 6,000 storage propane cylinders were present on the property in various states of the reconditioning and filling operations. The second part of our mission once cleared by Incident Command was a visual inspection of critical areas with local Hazmat Group Leader. All locations of the property were inspected finding 10 compromised cylinders remaining in various locations that warranted immediate product removal. As a result of the fire, seven mobile home properties west of the fire building in the Sunset Manor Park were exposed to high heat and shrapnel damage resulting in total losses to those structures. The final part of our response was assembling an Incident Action Plan with the hazmat branch to render safe the remaining 10 propane bottles. Each bottle was transported to a designated burn area that was south of the property protected by a 1 ¾” hand-line supplied by Highland County Fire. Utilizing SMFR propane flaring touch each bottle was emptied in a control burn operation. A final inspection was conducted by SMFR personnel with the Hazmat Group Leader of the entire property. Minor brush fires were noted south east of the burn building and reported to Incident Command. No other hazards were observed.