The rocket fuel fire Monday at Hill Air Force Base heavily damaged the munitions storage igloo the fuel was stored in but apparently resulted in no chemical contamination, according to base officials.
Base spokesman Len Barry said Wednesday a remote-controlled television camera sent into the munitions bunker, followed by a visual check by an explosives team, showed the igloo was heavily damaged.The fire, which started about 1:30 p.m. Monday, burned all the solid rocket propellant stored in the igloo, Barry said. The base initially reported 40,000 pounds of the Minuteman I fuel was in the bunker but that figure Wednesday was reduced to 15,600 pounds.
The bunker can hold up to 40,000 pounds of solid fuel but only 15,600 pounds, stored in the igloo since 1963, was present when the fire started.
Barry said the explosives ordinance demolition team that sent the remote-controlled camera into the igloo Monday determined the fire was out and there was no chemical contamination and entered the bunker for a visual inspection.
The burning propellant produces hydrogen chloride gas, which combines with water vapor, another by-product of the combustion, to produce hydrochloric acid. The base bioenvironmental division warned the EOD squad to watch for surface acid contamination, but Barry said none was found in or around the bunker.
The visual inspection found twisted steel girders and charred concrete, Barry said, but no acid or unburned chunks of fuel.
After Monday's fire, a 2,000-foot security cordon was thrown up around the bunker but that was removed Monday afternoon, allowing the Roy gate near I-15 on the base's west side to reopen.
Barry said no reports of respiratory distress or other injuries have been received by the base as a result of the blaze, which lasted for about three minutes and sent a cloud of smoke and gas 1,000 feet into the air.
The base notified hospitals surrounding the base about possible respiratory distress complaints, according to Lt. Col. Phil Brown, the Hill environmental engineer.
No cause for the fire has been determined yet and the investigation continues, Barry said, estimating it will be several weeks before a cause is pinpointed.