Crook County Fire and Rescue was dispatched at 09:29 on Tuesday May 24th, for a truck on fire with hazardous materials on board. Firefighters arrived to 3842 NW Bus Evans Road, Prineville Freight Depot, to find a vacuum truck fully involved in fire. The truck was reported to be owned by Envirotech, a company that makes the de-icing agent Magnesium Chloride. The burning vacuum truck was filled with approximately 50 gallons of Zirconium, a bi-product of the manufacturing process of the deicing agent. The truck was quickly extinguished. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Follow-up to the Prineville Freight Depot Fire on 5/24/16, Crook County Fire and Rescue along with the Office of State Fire Marshal conducted an investigation the morning of 5/25/16. The fire started in a vacuum truck used to clean the byproduct from the magnesium chloride (de-icer) mixing plant. The byproduct contains zirconium which is a flammable metal. This is the third incident since 2011 for zirconium related fires at the mixing plant operated by Envirotech Services Inc.
Through the quick actions of an employee, the truck was backed away from the mixing plant before becoming fully engulfed with fire. The approximate 50 gallons of byproduct drawn into the truck’s tank caught fire and quickly spread to the rest of the vehicle once the employee exited the cab. It was reported that spot fires were extinguished 60 feet in front of the vehicle due to the fire’s quick propagation. It was also reported the employee had later checked into the emergency room for breathing discomfort and is currently being treated at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend for inhalation burns.
Crook County Fire and Rescue along with the State Fire Marshal’s Office is currently working to reviewing the process for handling and disposal of the byproduct/zirconium. According the MSDS for zirconium, fines will burn when exposed to an ignition source and dust may be explosive. Crook County Fire and Rescue has been in contact with representation from the Prineville Freight Depot regarding the incidents.