All of the nearly 3,000 residents of Warden, Washington were forced from their homes on Thursday night, January 21, 2021, as the result of a massive fire and ammonia tank explosion accident risk at the Washington Potato Company plant that anchors that community. Warden is located approximately 90 miles southwest of Spokane. The order for all residents to evacuate came at about 8:30 p.m.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office issued what is known as a Level 3 Evacuation Order to the residents of Warden. Residents were alerted that they needed to immediately evacuate their homes because of the high risk that the ammonia tank would blow. Law enforcement officials in Warden went door-to-door to ensure compliance with the evacuation order.
Several hours passed before the residents of Warden were given an all-clear to return to their residences. The community was fortunate in that the risk of an ammonia tank explosion, which could have had devastating consequences, appeared to have passed by about midnight.
Early reports from law enforcement officials indicate that no one has yet suffered any serious injuries as a result of the fire and potential explosion. With that said, in cases such as the one in Warden, time and again there are situations in which people exposed to smoke arising from an industrial fire or explosion end up suffering what prove to be significant health consequences at some point later in time.
As of Friday morning, the underlying cause of the accident is not yet known or at least hasn’t been announced to the public. The fire burned for hours, despite the efforts of area firefighters that were called to the scene. Officials report that as Friday morning, the blaze may not have been fully extinguished because of the presence of persistent smoldering embers in the plant building that went up in flames the day before.
Although the ammonia tank in harm’s way at the site of the Washington Potato Company explosion accident didn’t blow on Thursday night, the fire itself produced a large and expanding plume of smoke that spread over the city of Warden and the surrounding area. Officials from the Washington Potato Company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Oregon Potato Company, provided no specifics as to what might be contained in the smoke plume.
Governmental officials on the local and state level have started monitoring the smoke plume to ascertain whether or not it contains any hazardous chemicals. The stark reality is that smoke generated from industrial explosions like that at the Washington Potato Company plant typically does contain harmful substances, including hazardous chemicals that have the potential of threatening the health and wellbeing of people who come into contact with that smoke.
In addition to airborne contamination, explosion accidents and fires like that which caused the evacuation of Warden, Washington, are also known to cause other types of contamination. This includes contamination of soil and waterways. Because firefighters have only now managed to get the blaze under control, and the investigation into the cause and aftereffects of the incident has only just commenced, there is no information the immediate environmental impact of the blaze, let along any data on potential long-term consequences of the fire and smoke plume.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a fire or explosion accident, the industrial accident legal team at The Doan Law Firm stands ready to fight for your rights. If you worry about potential exposure to hazardous substances associated with an explosion accident or industrial accident, The Doan Law Firm is available to evaluate your case. You can connect with our firm any time of the day or night by calling (800) 349-0000.
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