See the incredible video HERE.
This was not a “normal” fire. Apparently there were or might have been solvents associated with silk-screening that caused an explosion in a garage that shook the houses, rattled the windows of homes in the area and freightened many people. Fumes and explosive chemicals associated with silk-screening and clean-up may be part of the cause of the fierce fire in a garage which destroyed the garage and a Buick SUV parked in the drive next to the garage and sent huge black clouds of choking smoke into air in the highly populated residential area. Two adults and two children live in the house. The house itself was also damaged. There may have been silk-screening chemicals stored in the basement.
The fire was thought to have begun when something was thrown in an open container that had ashes from the fireplace in it. Apparently some of the ashes were still burning and the higher temperatures exploded whatever was thrown into or around the open container. Seems like quite a lot of irresponsible and illicit behaviors could have been or might have been behind the explosion and fire. Detailed investigations are needed.
At the height of the fire which took over an hour to control there were 23 vehicles of fire fighting, EMT and police equipment deployed to 437 Rocksville Road in Holland Northampton township in Bucks County PA at about 1:00 PM on Christmas day at a considerable cost to the tax-paying residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
The precise cause of the explosion has not been determined pending an investigation however the presence of large amounts of highly flammable paints and solvents would be part of the investigation by the fire departments as well as the township and the county.
If there were screen printing chemicals stored in the garage that would be a possible cause of the huge and long lasting fire. The fierceness and length of time it burned and it’s apparent resistence to the water sprayed on it to stop it seems to indicate there were highly volitile chemicals in the burning garage.
Screen printing and the associated cleaning of the various aparatus requires a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOC), including chemical solvents, inks, lacquer thinners, and other highly toxic and dangerous chemicals during the printing and washing process. Other chemicals used can include mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, chromium, cobalt, and copper. The carrier into which the pigments are mixed is usually based on water or ethyl alcohol which makes them flammable.
Exposure to the fumes emitted by common screen printing products can ultimately cause a myriad of health issues, from minor sinus irritation to skin irruptions, respiratory problems to even cancer.
Some chemicals have a certain flash point, for example. This means the fire marshal or OSHA can come in and require proper disposal of the rags and T-shirts used to clean the screens in a specific container rather than put them in the dumpster because of their potential flammability. It’s smart to use chemicals that have a high flash point. It’s rather irresponsible to operate a screen printing operation in a residential neighborhood.
If the screen printing items were cleaned in the sinks of the home the residue went into the township sewer system, most likely in clandestine operations.
The mere disposal of these highly dangerous chemicals pose dangers to humans, animals and the environment which is why they are highly regulated and highly controlled. The length of time the fire burned as well as it’s fierceness is a cause for concern.
As a result of the explosion and fire many homes and people in the area were placed in un-necessary danger by what was likely cans of lacquer and solvent which acted almost like individual solvent-based bombs. The fire caused projectiles to be shot into the air. See the video HERE.
But even without the fire, if the chemicals in screen printing were sent into the air they posed a possible and potential danger to the people in the associated house and the community. Even the rags used to clean the various screen r printing items pose dangers. If they were placed in the household trash they posed a danger to the people collecting the trash.