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Oil tank fire sends firefighters to hospital

Posted on by SST

A seasonal natural gas facility in Arizona that operates only during peak months caught fire after a hydraulic line connected to an oil tank burst, sending three area firefighters to the hospital.

AZ Family reported an oil tank fire at the Salt River Project plant in Gilbert, Ariz., broke out at 8 a.m. on Aug. 12. Both Gilbert and Mesa fire departments responded to the scene and rotated firefighters to conduct the most efficient and safe fire suppression strategy due to the extreme heat of the building and lack of oxygen. SRP officials told the Associated Press a line carrying hydraulic fluid became dislodged. Hot pipes nearby were sprayed with hydraulic fluid – a substance that is typically used as a coolant at the plant – and the pipes began to smoke.

"Basically, a high-pressure leak," said Gilbert Fire Capt. Mike Connor. "One of the pipes burst and it has a tank reservoir that leaked out some hydraulic fluid that's used for cooling."

Brian Ruffentine, a member of the Gilbert Fire Depar‚Äčtment, said the broken hydraulic line belonged to a 240-gallon oil tank and caught fire inside one of the facility's operational buildings. Although SRP effectively shut down their equipment and firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly, some firefighters were exposed to the oil, both on their skin and in their eyes, and we sent to Mercy Gilbert Medical Center for treatment.

"Basically, the oil is a mild irritant," Connor said. "[The firefighters] got some on their skin and had some eye issues. Everything seems minor. They're going to be OK. It was precautionary as to why we transported them."

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