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These are the disasters our politicians never take into account when they cut back on emergency services. Disasters like this require MASSIVE amounts of manpower and equipment (like yesterday) when they occur. The goal is to cut off or stem the incident before it spreads any further and then roll it back into containment. Easier said then done. In the case of a large diameter gas line like this, the firefighters are at the mercy of the utility crews to get the gas shut down. You have to cut off the fuel source before you can even get close to a fire of this magnitude. Meanwhile the water mains are ruptured and the radiant heat is setting other structures on fire. It’s a worst case scenario.
We had a fire like this in Philly a few years ago but we were lucky. The line ruptured in a spot away from any structures. Our guys were able to hose down the exposures and keep things from getting worse long enough for the gas company to shut the ruptured line down. One of the main problems for utility crews is the line is extremely difficult to cut off once ruptured because of the pressure. I also studied a similar incident in northern New Jersey that devastated an apartment complex. What a nightmare.
Disasters happen in our society. We had one here just last week when a welding company exploded. It takes highly skilled emergency services to keep things from going from bad to worse when they do. You can’t put a price tag on those services until AFTER an incident. Inevitably you always find out you get what you paid for. My prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy.