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This car was carrying around 125,000 litres of propane gas that had begun to escape through the leaks. The intention of the railroad employees was to convey the contents of the tank car to the storage tanks of the Williams Energy Company. In order to correct the leaks in the valves, one of the employees struck at the valve with a wrench. This proved to be the beginning of the catastrophe as the sparks that flew as a result of the friction between the two ignited a flame. Since propane is highly inflammable, the resultant flame quickly grew into a large fire. The forked fire grew to heights as large as seventy to eighty feet. By this time, the leaks had expanded to both vertical as well as horizontal directions. This led to further difficulties in the confinement of the perimeter of the fire. With an expansion in the amount of pressure that had been building up in the railroad car, there was an explosion that was felt by everyone who was within a radius of a little over eight kilometres. The immediate impact was felt by the firefighters who were stationed near the site of the explosion. Including those who died later of burns, eleven deaths of firefighters have been recorded till date (“The Disaster Story,” 2011).
Before a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) incident occurs, the fire grows to dangerous heights. The real hazard however, lies in the explosion that is caused by a sharp rise in pressure in whatever contains the fuel. During a BLEVE incident, the firefighters are faced with the twin-problem of quelling the fire and not allowing pressure to build up within the container. Needless to say, the damages that are caused to life and property in such a situation also arise from the above-mentioned twin sources.
The part of the incident that could have been avoided, however, was the casualties that were caused by the large number of spectators. Many people gathered to watch the fire,
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