On The Job Ohio: Five-Alarm Fire Destroys Oil Company In Pike Township

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...


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At 11:14 A.M., the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Fire Department responded with Crash 17, a crash-fire-rescue vehicle carrying 1,700 gallons of foam; Tanker 8, a 3,500-gallon tanker; and Tanker 12, a 5,000-gallon tanker with six firefighters and Fire Chief Jacob King, who assumed command. Pike Township Fire Chief Jerry Donnelly was assigned as deputy incident commander, Lieutenant Robbie Oldham of German Township as operations chief and Pike Township Chief 2 Dave Richardson as deputy operations chief. Wright-Patterson Safety Officer Jeffery Kitzmiller was assigned as the incident safety officer and Captain J.R. Routt from the Enon Fire Department as water supply officer. The initial command post was established on side B.

As the fire continued to spread, additional resources were needed. No nearby water supply was available. Engines and tankers responded from the Covington, Fletcher, Harmony Township, Hustead, Jasper/St. Paris, Ludlow Falls, Mad River/Enon, Madison, Moorefield, New Carlisle, Pitchin, Pleasant Hill, Pleasant Township, Rosewood, Tipp City/Monroe, Urbana and West Milton fire departments.

Initially, tankers drew water from the North Hampton water system, which became depleted. Tankers were then redirected to the Northwestern School District water system, which also became depleted, causing the tankers to be directed to hydrants at the Upper Valley Mall that are supplied by the City of Springfield water system. A water supply was also established at Chateau Estates and a pond at Evans Farm. No further water-supply issues developed. A total of 32 tankers supplied six portable tanks at the scene.

At 12:14 P.M., King requested a no-fly zone around the incident after observing several small aircraft and two news helicopters flying very low over the scene. This was to keep aircraft from approaching the scene to ensure the safety of any aircraft personnel and to keep the hazard plume from changing wind direction. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered a 1,000-foot no-fly zone around the incident.

Containers explode

The first of several BLEVEs (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosions) of containers occurred at 12:14 P.M. Firefighting crews were ordered to evacuate the area and take cover. A personnel accountability report (PAR) was conducted and all personnel on scene were accounted for. Once the BLEVEs subsided, the defensive attack was initiated from the B side using foam.

The Clark County Sherriff’s Office made a mass notification of a shelter-in-place order for a one-mile radius at 12:54 P.M. using the reverse 911 system. There were 124 residences in the area affected by the order. The Northwestern School District was notified of the road closures and to shelter the students in place. Early dismissal of students was arranged with the high school dismissed at 1:30 P.M. and the elementary school at 2:30 P.M. All evening activities at the schools were canceled.

 

Ongoing operations

Box 27 arrived on scene and set up a rehabilitation area for firefighters to be mandatorily rotated in and out of. Pike Township Medic 1 provided medical support and firefighter monitoring. The Clark County Engineering Office provided diesel fuel to refuel apparatus that were getting low on fuel due to operating on scene for an extended period.

All firefighting operations were defensive in nature. Apparatus had to be repositioned several times on the D side due to weather, heat and smoke conditions. Section chiefs were assigned to the B and D sides. Oldham was assigned to the D side and Kitzmiller was assigned to the B side. Lieutenant Trent Zerkle from the Christianburg Fire Department was assigned as the tanker staging officer to control tanker movement and to assist the water supply officer. This ensured that the tanker-shuttle operations ran smoothly and that there were no water supply issues on the fireground.

 

Environmental issues

The Clark County Hazardous Materials Team arrived on scene and assigned City of Springfield Lieutenant Brian Wirth as accountability officer and Springfield Chief 2 Brian Miller as hazmat branch chief. The hazmat team requested the damming and diking trailer from Enon to respond to the scene. It was decided to construct an underflow dam at the southwest corner of the property near the creek to ensure contaminants were captured close to the incident. Additionally, the team placed absorbent pads and booms to collect the contaminated runoff. The Clark County Engineering Office provided an excavator, three dump trucks and five loads of dirt and gravel along with equipment operators to help mitigate the hazardous materials spills and runoff. The Clark County Combined Health District (CCCHD) provided support and coordination for researching and monitoring toxins and air quality,