Hose Becomes Flame Thrower
An accident with butadiene gas in Los Angeles provides a vivid illustration of what happens invisibly when there are cross connections between city water systems and pipe lines carrying contaminated water.
In making a pressure test on a butadiene line for leakage, the fire department connected a hose to a fire hydrant and tried to pump water into the section of the butadiene line which supposedly was valved off and under no pressure.
Actually, the butadiene was under 90 pounds of pressure, which was considerably higher than the pressure in the water system.
A check valve on the fire pump failed to hold and the butadiene gas traveled hack through the water system. Almost immediately, flames were observed shooting out of the windows in a nearby house.
When the fire department hooked onto a neighboring fire hydrant to put out the flames, the fire hose became a flame thrower.
It was later ascertained that the gas had traveled back through the water pipes into the house, and had escaped into the bathroom through an open faucet. It was ignited by a nearby gas heater.
(E. W. W. IN U. S. PUB. HEALTH ENGR. ABSTRACTS, Aug., 1946)