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Hydrogen Gas Explosion and Fire at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. in Santa Clara

On Saturday, June 1 Santa Clara Fire Department extinguished a fire at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. in Santa Clara.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. firefighters from the Santa Clara Fire Department responded to reports of an explosion and fire at a chemical, gas storage and transportation facility near the 1500 block of Norman Avenue.

When crews arrived on scene at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., they located multiple hydrogen tanker trucks on fire in the facility yard. Once firefighters confirmed no one was injured and the area had been evacuated, they switched to defensive operations with multiple ladder trucks flowing water from aerial master streams. Businesses in a two-block radius were evacuated or advised to shelter in place for approximately two hours.

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The fire was reported extinguished as of 5:40 p.m. Additional air sampling and thermal imaging was conducted to ensure air quality, and that the hydrogen, which is not visible when burning in the daytime, did not pose a threat.

Early interviews with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. employees indicated that “a hydrogen tanker truck was being fueled and a leak occurred,” according to Drew Miller, Battalion Chief for Santa Clara Fire Department, in a press conference Saturday evening.

“When the shutdown of the tanker truck that was being fueled occurred, an explosion resulted,” said Miller.

According to Miller, the explosion damaged the emergency shutoff panel and valve near the tanker. Workers were able to shut off two valves but couldn’t shut off the valve near the original tanker truck. The tanker caught on fire, which spread to other tankers nearby. Only some tankers in the fueling area were affected and the fire didn’t spread beyond that area.

Miller said they were still interviewing employees.

Throughout the evening and into Sunday, June 2, firefighters continued to help preserve property, environmental protection and salvage and overhaul operations.

No civilians or firefighters reported injuries at the incident. The exact cause of the explosion and subsequent fire is under investigation.

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