Valdosta Daily Times

August 15, 2013

Tragedy and response

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Wednesday, the unthinkable happened in Valdosta. A small explosion followed by a series of explosions rocked the industrial park area south of the city at PermaFix, a chemical disposal company. Firefighters from the city, the county and surrounding areas were called in to assist in fighting the blaze, which took several hours to contain.

In the meantime, a thunderstorm rolled through the area, creating confusion as reports of a couple of lightning fires added to the burden on our local agencies.

Yet, throughout the turmoil of the afternoon, the men and women in uniform acted professionally, calmly and in the best interests of the public. The area was evacuated as a precaution, roadways were blocked off, and sightseers were kept at a safe distance while firefighters and other emergency personnel battled the blaze and maintained public safety. The area agencies all hold practice drills, burn demonstrations and more in order for personnel to receive the training needed for a variety of circumstances. Not knowing what chemicals they would face at the plant didn’t deter the response and the blaze was subdued as quickly as possible given the sheer size and ferocity of the fire.

Emergency responders are our community’s lifeline to safety. The training worked; they performed their jobs. We should all be grateful as this incident could have spread and been far worse had they not been able to contain the blaze.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and their families, and our heartfelt gratitude to those who risked their personal safety to come to the aid of others.