The Kansas Division of Emergency management says water samples from Fall River at Neodesha indicate high levels of chemicals from runoff from firefighting efforts at the Airosol company yesterday. Additional samples will be taken and analyzed. But the time being, public water has been shut off in Neodesha. The state has procured a three-day supply of bottled water through FEMA.
Firefighters are trying to balance all aspects of safety. Small fires in the facility occasionally spark bigger, smoke is still coming from the building, and aerosol cans are exploding. But emergency officials say this doesn't pose a risk to the public.
"Our plan right now, just to we don't get people hurt, is to just let it continue to burn. We've got air monitoring equipment. We're not getting any bad readings. So the other option would be to try to put it out, but then we create more runoff that's causing the water emergency," says Fire Chief Duane Banzet with Neodesha Fire and EMS.
"Its (runoff) gotten into the sewer. We were unable to block it because of all the explosions, also because of a sewer drain that was close to where the explosions were. We used a massive amount of water. I mean we totally drained our city's supply of water," says Banzet.
Banzet estimates about 2.5 million gallons of water were used yesterday to try and put out the fire. The fire chief says butane and acetone were at the manufacturing facility, and there are concerns water runoff includes these chemicals, among others.
"We haven't sprayed water in several hours," says Banzet. "But we still have possible contaminated water making it to the river. So we're trying to come up with a plan to stop that. That's probably our number one priority."
The Kansas National Guard has two water filtration systems deploying from Topeka to a water source in the Neodesha area. Each system is capable of purifying 15-hundred gallons of water an hour, and temporarily storing the water on-side.
Banzet is also asking people to turn off water heaters in their homes and apartments. Empty water heaters that are on can be damaged.
An Airosol company spokesman says the company manufactures aerosol cans for several other companies, and the Airosol company invented the aerosol can several years ago.
Banzet says he's aware of a much smaller fire at the Airosol company, at least 20 years ago, in the facility's can manufacturing area that puts caps on cans. Banzet could not remember the cause of that fire.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas