On the evening of July 23 a big fire broke out in a warehouse rented by Zimi Chemicals on Cingtian Road in Taoyuan’s Sinwu District, causing an explosion. The firefighters did not originally know that sodium dithionite and other dangerous industrial chemicals were stored in the warehouse, and they got a fright when they found out. Taoyuan Fire Department Director-General Hu Ying-da slammed the owners for not installing signs to inform firefighters that dangerous substances were stored there, and he said they would have to pay a heavy fine in accordance with the law.
When firefighters responding to a report arrived on the scene at 9.14 in the evening, they found no sign outside the burning warehouse indicating that dangerous industrial chemicals were stored there. They only found this out when a worker rushed out to escape and told them that sodium dithionite was kept in the warehouse along with 70 30-liter barrels of hydrogen peroxide, potassium nitrate and other dangerous industrial chemicals. This got the firefighters very worried, and as they sprayed water on the fire they kept reminding each other to beware of explosions.
At about 9.40, a small fire engine that was parked less than three meters away from the main door of the warehouse was engulfed by a fireball and fierce flames following an explosion. The fire engine was half destroyed by fire, but luckily there was no one in it. Using an infrared thermometer, firefighters detected that the heat of the fire was about 800 degrees Celsius, so the company commander radioed his men to pull out.
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Liberty Times, from a fire department photo
The fire department says that sodium dithionite is widely used in the textiles industry for purposes such as vat dying and bleaching. It can autoignite at 250 degrees. When it comes into contact with water there is a chemical reaction and it burns, and as it does so it can easily release harmful gases.
(Liberty Times, translated by Julian Clegg)
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Liberty Times, from a fire department photo.
1. arrive on the scene phr. 到場
例: When reporters arrived on the scene, three men were seen running away.
2. engulf v. 吞噬
例: The log cabin was engulfed in a sea of flames.
3. pull out v. phr. 撤退
例: Our forces are heavily outnumbered. We must pull out.
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