Baltimore Tunnel Fire Research Paper

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The Baltimore Tunnel Fire of 2001 was an emergency which the city was ill prepared for. On July 18th 2001, a CSX freight train got derailed in the Howard Street Tunnel in downtown Baltimore. People around the area noticed black smoke billowing out of both the ends of the tunnel. This is a common occurrence as many people mistook the diesel fumes from the train to be smoke from a fire. However on reaching the tunnel it was a different situation. The smoke was so thick that the fire fighters could not enter the tunnel. On further investigation it was discovered that the train was carrying flammable material like paper in many of its cars. However the more serious issue was the many chemicals the train was also carrying. The situation changed and there was not an easy way to control the fire. Apart from the fire department,…show more content…
If the engineers had been trapped in the tunnel, there would have been less time to evaluate the situation carefully. The firefighters would not have had time and would have had to enter the tunnel to rescue the engineers. This could have been extremely dangerous for both the firefighters and the people trapped. They could have been severe injuries even fatalities from the heavy smoke, the toxic chemicals or in case there were any explosions (Howitt et al, 2009) If mass evacuations were needed, it would have created confusion and massive traffic snarls. This would have prevented emergency and rescue vehicles from reaching the tunnel. Without these vehicles, the situation would have spiraled out of control. If the chemical spill had resulted in a toxic plume, it would have been disastrous. Since the city has no emergency preparedness in such a situation, there was no gas masks or a method of neutralizing the toxic gases. Evacuation of the city would have been the only way to protect the people (Howitt et al,

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