reprinted from The Lakeland Ledger August 20, 1999 by John Barker...
CREWS HANDLING OF FIRE WAS MATCHLESS
word in a racers vocabulary is FIRE. That word sounded loudly last
Saturday Night at USA International Speedway. One driver is in Tampa
General Hospitals Burn Center as a result. Was there any way to
prevent him from being there? Was USAs fire-rescue crews response
proper? The answer to the first question is probably not. The answer
to the second is a resounding yes. The fire itself was triggered
by your typical racing accident. No driver wants to see another
competitors life put in jeopardy. All drivers were able to exit
their cars under their own power before the fire-rescue crew was
According to promoter Rick Day, Late Model Sportsman driver Richard
Anderson of Pinellas Park is still in the Burn Center and will be
there for about three weeks. Day went on to say that all of Andersons
first and second degree facial burns should heal without scarring
and that he would possibly have skin grafts done to his arm, which
had third degree burns.
Each Fire is different, and this one on a scale of one to 10, was
a 12. Unless youve fought an actual fire, you have no idea of the
quick decisions that must be made by firefighters. Richard Brown,
an 18-year firefighting veteran and a member of the Tampa Fire Rescue,
provided insight following the Saturday night event. Many in attendance
were not aware of the real situation.
Once I came around in my support vehicle and saw the fire, I didnt
think they had enough to put it out, Brown said. I dont know if
there is a textbook way to handle this particular way to handle
this particular case, especially when you have four cars on a track
and on a hill with fuel running downhill. What a great job these
guys (USA Fire-Rescue Crew, TRACK RESCUE)
USA Speedway Fire Chief Craig Clarke had two USA fire-rescue crews,
eight men and two vehicles, who fought the blaze out of turn two.
The blaze was a massive one with at least two fuel cells erupting,
and one other losing fuel. It was a shock to hear the explosion
that was followed by a fireball running down the track, engulfing
race cars in flames. Fortunately, all drivers were out of their
race cars. My crew performed in a very professional manner, enabling
all crew members to perform their individual tasks to the highest
degree of their ability, Clarke said. Every fire presents a different
set of circumstances, and this was a unique fire, because it challenged
Challenging it was. It took fewer than 20 seconds for the crews
to respond with equipment in full operation, and only 2 minutes,
54 seconds to extinguish the blazing inferno. Driver Anderson was
then cut from his suit. A Water-Jel Fire Blanket which pulls heat
away from the body and lessens the pain, was applied. The bottom
line, its sad that one driver got injured, but a miracle that nothing
worse happened, concluded Brown.
Of This Event and Many More...