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WDKX.com » Blog » Massive Tanker Fire on Ridge Road Remembered Ten Years Later
Apr 29th 2013 8:13 pm
Massive Tanker Fire on Ridge Road Remembered Ten Years Later

"You see a lot of different things and certainly you see a little bit of everything," said Lt. Patrick Marapese.
There are some days a firefighter never forgets.

"You never know it all, you never seen it all. You never know what each day is going to bring."

That was certainly the case on April 29, 2003.

"Originally, it came in as a simple car accident with a car rolled over," said Captain Joseph Luna.

"As we rolled out the door, it said several cars on fire with several houses on fire," Marapese said.

"It slowly just kept getting worse," Luna said.

"We didn't know exactly what we had yet, but we knew we had something," said Marapese.

As it turned out, even that was an understatement.

"Seeing this sort of orange kind of mushroom cloud in the sky was an indication it was going to be a little bit different than normal," Luna said.

Luna was one of the first firefighters to get to West Ridge Road.

"It was just a big ball of flames," Marapese said.

Marapese was there as well. A tanker carrying 12,000 gallons of gasoline had rolled over, catching it, and an entire neighborhood, on fire.

"Honestly, it was, wow. I've never seen anything like this year, and from there, it was just business as usual."

The five-alarm fire sent gasoline running down Ridge Road, like a river of flame. An elderly woman died in the fire. Nearly two dozen houses were damaged.

"You just have that moment where you say okay, this is going to be bigger than most," Luna said.

The driver of the truck walked away from the wreck. Many sleeping residents were rescued from their homes. Firefighters say it could have been much worse.

"It was not a simple job, we knew we were going to need a lot of people, and we knew we were going to be there a while."

At the time of the crash and explosion, the state already had plans to make changes to the intersection of Route 104 and Lake Avenue. As a matter of fact, the state had already purchased several homes on the north side of 104 with plans to demolish them.

"So they zip in through here, and we still got problems," said Debi Tellier.

Tellier grew up in the neighborhood. She still shudders when she hears trucks coming through.

"They don't pay attention. They really don't."

And despite changes to the intersection, including red light cameras, she says it's still an accident waiting to happen.

"If I don't see at least one a week, I don't see any, and there's a lot."

Most of all, she remembers the fire. Clearly.

"I tried to get as close as I could, because when I heard what was going on I was concerned for the neighbors here."

The neighborhood today is much different. The only reminder of what happened 10 years ago is the still vacant lot, where the lone victim once lived.

That, and for those who were there that day, images which will never fade.

"The memories are pretty vivid of that one because I still haven't seen anything like it," Marapese said.

Source: YNN.com