Environment & Science

Vacuum truck explosion in Santa Paula results in multiple evacuations

Over a dozen people were seen at Ventura County Medical Center Tuesday after a vacuum truck explosion, which sprayed about 1,000 gallons of an unknown combustible liquid.
Over a dozen people were seen at Ventura County Medical Center Tuesday after a vacuum truck explosion, which sprayed about 1,000 gallons of an unknown combustible liquid.
NBC L.A.

Over a dozen people were seen at Ventura County Medical Center Tuesday after a vacuum truck explosion, which left about 1,000 gallons of an unknown combustible liquid on the ground, according to the Ventura County Fire Department's Tom Kruschke.

The Department received a call at around 4 a.m. about an injury at Mission Rock Road, west of Santa Paula and south of Highway 126, Kruschke told KPCC. The vacuum truck had been removing chemical contents from a storage container when there was an explosion.

“We have since determined that the contents were an organic peroxide,” Kruschke said. "The problem we’re having is that as it [the chemical content] is exposed to the wind and weather, it dries out, crystallizes and can spontaneously combust."

After the initial incident, some of the workers at the scene of the incident, including firefighters and ambulance personnel, were exposed to the chemical and were contaminated, Kruschke said.

“It took us a while to determine that there was this problem and what was happening with this chemical,” Kruschke said. “So we ended up with two incidents going on at the same time.”

In addition to the two civilians seen at the Ventura County Medical Center, three firefighters and one ambulance worker were also seen, Glen Albright with the Ventura City Fire Department told KPCC. Some had respiratory complaints or skin irritation.

A dozen hospital staff were also possibly contaminated, Albright said. More firefighters and an inmate from the Todd Road Jail were also taken to the hospital to be checked out as a precaution.

There were a total of 55 firefighters and 100-plus people from other agencies working to handle the incident, Kruschke said. The Los Angeles County Fire Department also sent hazmat teams to assist with the incident, the agency said on Twitter

Briggs Elementary School was evacuated and Todd Road Jail was in a shelter-in-place status, Kruschke said.