A weird close call happened on our shift yesterday. We had a single engine respond to a forklift leaking propane. Upon arrival, our E3 found heavy black smoke coming out of an open overhead door of a large commercial warehouse, type II construction. The occupant says We cant get the propane leak shut off, and we cant put the fire out either. The Capt. of E3 says What fire? Occupant says the forklift is on fire, just go in this door and turn left and go 100 down this hallway (a hallway of 20 ceiling high rack storage). The Capt. Regroups, calls for a working fire assignment, and tells his company to stretch a line to the overhead door right in front of the burning lift. As they move around the exterior of the building and get ready to open the overhead door, the propane tank attached to the rear of the forklift experiences a BLEVE, and a huge fireball erupts from an already involved forklift. They shit their pants, put their game face back on, and advance the line.
We were the 2nd Engine on the assignment. They had the fire knocked down on our arrival, but had heavy black smoke banked down to our knees with no real knowledge of fire extension above or adjacent to them. We joined operations from there.
If that had come in as a fire (dispatch error, go figure!), they could have very well been right on the forklift with a line when the tank BLEVEd.
What a horrible close call, with a whole company of dirty pants!
We are counting our blessings. Call it stupid luck or Divine Intervention. Who knows!