Sunday, March 21, 2004

Tank catches fire, forcing evacuation

By Dan Klepal and Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MIAMI TWP. - A fire in a 6,000-gallon petroleum tank holding an asphalt-type material at the Marathon-Ashland facility on Brower Road Saturday forced the evacuation of a county park and prompted emergency officials to ask nearby residents to stay inside with doors and windows shut for several hours.

chart No one was injured in the fire, and the "shelter in place" advisory lasted a little more than two hours.

Pressure inside the tank after the fire started caused the hatch on top to burst open, as it is designed to do. The first firefighters on the scene reported seeing flames coming from the hatch. They used hand-held air monitors to check for hydrogen sulfide, a potentially lethal gas that attacks the respiratory system. None was detected. Firefighters sprayed the outside of the tank to put out the fire.

Linda Casey, a spokeswoman for Marathon-Ashland, said the company doesn't know how the fire started. The thick black substance, used in making clay pigeons, graphite golf clubs and electrical probes, won't burn unless it's exposed to temperatures of 500 degrees or greater, she said.

Miami Township Fire Chief Jim Hughes said the warnings to residents were precautionary. "In my view, no one was ever in any danger," he said.

Myron Hamilton, a 38-year-old resident of the nearby Shaker Village subdivision off Mount Nebo Road, agreed. He was fishing with his two sons at a pond in the subdivision when the fire started. His wife called on his cell phone to warn him. Hamilton said he didn't even smell the fire.

"It was no biggie," he said.


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