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n Thursday, April 19, 2012, a five-alarm fire destroyed the R.D. Holder Oil Co. in Pike Township, Clark County, OH. Before the fire was extinguished, more than 125 firefighters from 38 departments in Clark, Champaign, Greene, Madison, Miami and Montgomery counties responded. Several containers exploded, forcing firefighters to evacuate. No-fly-zone and shelter-in-place orders were issued during the incident. The fire started while a flammable liquid was being transferred from a storage tank to a fuel-delivery truck, then extended to the storage tanks and spread rapidly, engulfing the entire facility.
The fire was considered a National Incident Management System (NIMS) Type 3 incident that involved local, regional and state agencies and lasted more than one operational period. A total of 54 public and private agencies were involved in firefighting, hazardous materials mitigation, scene safety and support operations.
Construction and contents
R.D. Holder Oil Co. is a distributor of fuel, oil and industrial lubricants. The complex consisted of four interconnected one-story buildings occupying 15,000 square feet. Construction consisted of a cement block building, pole barns and a double-wide trailer used as office space. The buildings were covered with aluminum and sheet metal with metal roofing. They were equipped with a security system, but no fire detection or protection systems. Contents included 40,000 gallons of various grades of motor oils, hydraulic oils and transmission fluids; 10,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel; 1,750 gallons of used oil; 275 gallons of heating oil; 300 gallons of diesel fuel; and 10,300 gallons of lubricants.
The Pike Township Fire Department was dispatched to a reported fuel truck fire at the Holder facility at 10:51 A.M. Responding on the first alarm were Pike Township Engine 1, a 1,250-gpm pumper; Tanker 1, a 1,750-gallon tanker with a 750-gpm pump; Medic 1; and Rescue 1 with seven firefighters under the command of Firefighter/Medic Daniel Carpenter. Automatic mutual aid responding on the initial alarm included German Township Fire Department Engine 2, a 1,500-gpm pumper; New Carlisle Fire Department Quint 2, a 750-gpm pumper with a 100-foot aerial ladder; and Bethel Clark Fire Department Engine 54, a 1,250-gpm pumper and Tanker 54, a 2,000-gallon tanker with a 1,250-gpm pump.
On arrival, Bethel Township 514 Lieutenant Jerry Meddock found a 1,000-gallon fuel delivery tanker fully involved on the C side near the D corner of the building with fire extending into the warehouse. The four-compartment, aluminum tank contained racing fuel. Meddock immediately requested mutual aid from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Fire Department, 15 miles from the scene, for its foam capabilities and knowledge of fighting flammable liquid fires.
All 15 employees of the company had evacuated the area before the arrival of the fire department. Pike Township Engine 1 was positioned on side C. Firefighters made an initial attack on the tanker in an effort to stop the extension of the fire into the building. Crews advanced two 200-foot, 1¾-inch attack lines from Engine 1. A 1,000-gallon portable tank was set up alongside Engine 1 for a water supply. This operation was supplied by Pike Township Tanker 1.
After about 30 minutes, firefighting operations at this location were abandoned as the fire continued to spread into the warehouse. The hoselines and portable tank were abandoned and Engine 1 was repositioned to the B side of the complex in an effort to keep the fire from spreading into the next building.
German Township Truck 1 was positioned on the D side of the building on Detrick Jordan Pike and set up for aerial master stream operations. This unit was supplied by German Township Tanker 1. Bethel Clark Engine 51 and Tanker 54 were also positioned on the D side and set up operations for an attack at the A/D corner of the building. The crew from Engine 51 attempted forcible entry into the building after finding all doors locked on the D side of the warehouse. A master stream was placed into operation on the D side supplied by a 200-foot, three-inch line from Engine 51. A dump-tank operation was established by Tanker 54 and Engine 51.