Yesterday, I was sitting at a local coffee jaunt that all the Emergency Services (EMS and Police) frequent. I was chatting to a medic from a local security service, whom is a fantastic fireman. We suddenly felt the ground shake, heard a blast and saw a huge plume of white smoke form on the other side of Benoni City.
We raced to our response vehicles
and responded in that general direction. As we drove down the road that took us to this mistery, I saw the smoke had now been replace by a massive ball of flame. I arrived at the scene, blocking the road to prevent other vehicle and pedestrians getting closer, and took in all that was happening.
A recycling plant wa completely engulfed in flames, and as we stood there, gas cylinders started falling on the road around us, mostly burned, a few still smoking. I was informed a little later that there were 20 000 LPG Gas cylinders that were exploding.
We immediately pulled back 500 m away, calling for more assistance. M got out his car, donned his fire kit and raced into the premises to establish if there was anyone hurt. My this time ambulances, fire engines, police, and other emergency service vehicles were starting to arrive. Being the highest qualified emergency practitioner in the area, I immediately took triage control, set up a medical staging area.
M phoned me and said that a "bakkie" was bringing out two critically burnt patients out. The vehicle came racing out, smoking tyres from the heat just like a movie) and stopped next to me. On the back lay two patients, one with 100% burns and the other with 76 %.
We quickly loaded them into the waiting ambulnaces and raced them the 1 km to Glynnwood Hospital, the hospital I work at, where Trauma Surgeons and an Intesivist was waiting for them.
Two more patient came out with inhalation burns, and were also rushed to the hospital. A security guard was found a few minutes later. he had been flung off his chair by the blast, and sustained nasty fractures.
By this time the fire department were battling to keep the blaze under control, but fortunately were able to isolate the gas line that was beneath the factory. 3 hours later the fire was under control and they were damping down.
One of the burns patients was airlifted to a specialised burns unit in Johannesburg ofter being stabalised by us, the other unfortunately was too severly burnt to be saved, and he died 6 hours later.
(sorry no pictures, i was a tad busy)