First Firefighters on Scene Prevent More Dangerous Situations in Monday's Explosions - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/28/06

First Firefighters on Scene Prevent More Dangerous Situations in Monday's Explosions

It took over 200 fire firefighters, police officers and emergency responders to help control the chaos that broke out after Monday's propane tank explosion. If not for Lubbock firefighters aboard three trucks who risked their lives, the entire situation could have been much worse. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire speaks with one firefighter who knew his team was in a highly dangerous situation.

Pedros' Tamales is just 25 feet away from the site of the initial explosion. Firefighters sought shelter behind Pedro's after smaller propane tanks kept exploding sending metal pieces flying through the air. Some firefighters now say they knew that fire could've been their last.

The yard at Wylie LP Gas is now in shambles after a propane tank exploded Monday afternoon. Deputy Chief of Operations Rhea Cooper's division arrived first along with two other teams.

Fighting a blaze that could be seen for miles, they knew they were about to enter a potentially deadly situation. "The risk can't be any higher for our guys. Everybody on this team knew that, they knew it was very dangerous, but they've also been trained very well," said Cooper.

2/28/06
Pedro's Happy To Be Back In Business After Monday's Explosions
The aftermath of Monday's explosive propane fire leaves many businesses left to clean up a mess. Iit is still not known what caused the fire at Wylie LP Gas near 82nd and the Interstate, but investigators have been at the scene all day trying to assess the damage. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel spoke with one businesses who saw the explosions first hand.

Firefighters knew if the nearby 18,000 gallon propane tank exploded it would send debris up to a mile away, destroying everything and everyone nearby. So they first started wetting that tank to prevent additional danger. However, when smaller propane tank explosions sent metal flying through the air, Cooper forced firefighters to seek shelter behind Pedro's Tamales.

"I almost physically had to say we're going to go back and we're going to be protected by this building and regroup," recalled Cooper. "It's very hard to hold back firefighters, they always want to go and put the water on the fire, we're trained to do that."

Firefighters who arrived first say it was like a mini war zone. During that heated moment many thought it could've been their last. "They realized this could be it, this could be the last one. That's what makes it pretty fantastic the actions they initially took," said Cooper.

The 18,000 gallon tank did not explode, Cooper says that's because of the bravery and quickness of those first firefighters on the scene.

EXCLUSIVE Fire Pictures from South Lubbock Blaze
Check out these exclusive pictures snapped from the South Lubbock fire.

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