This is the most current information about DEQ’s response efforts at AmeriTies West in The Dalles, a railroad tie treatment plant where a fire started in a tank, causing an explosion.
Date of incident: March 9, 2023
Location: 100 Tile Plant Road, The Dalles
Product: Diesel sludge and residue
Cause: Under investigation
March 10, 5:30 p.m.
Air quality monitors installed early Friday afternoon are monitoring for particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
People who breathed the smoke from the fire may have experienced coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and/or irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat, according to the Oregon Health Authority. People over 65 and people with pre-existing heart conditions who breathed the smoke may be at increased risk of cardiovascular events for up to 24 hours after the smoke has cleared. Examples of cardiovascular events are coronary syndrome, arrhythmia, heart failure, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. People with asthma or other pre-existing respiratory diseases who breathed the smoke may have experienced worsened symptoms during the smoke event.
Cause of the fire is still under investigation, but emergency responders have learned that vapors inside the tank heated and expanded, causing an explosion inside the tank about 30 minutes after the fire started on Thursday night.
Read the full March 10 news release from DEQ.
March 10, 3 p.m.
DEQ and EPA are monitoring air quality at the plant.
The tank normally contains a solution of 99 percent diesel and one percent copper naphthenate. Crews had cleaned the tank of that solution earlier Thursday, though some diesel sludge and sawdust remained in the tank.
Cause of the fire is still being investigated. The Sherriff’s Office reported that the two injured firefighters had been taken to the hospital and were in good condition.
Initial report – March 9, 2023
A fire was reported at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 9, 2023, at the AmeriTies West wood treatment plant in The Dalles. About a half hour later a tank exploded. DEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies are coordinating the response.
Two firefighters were injured when the tank exploded, according to the Wasco County Sherriff’s Office. DEQ reports that the tank underwent a BLEVE, or a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.
DEQ and EPA are installing air quality monitors as a precaution. The facility is a cleanup site with soil and groundwater contamination.
For more information on AmeriTies West in The Dalles visit this DEQ webpage.
Information on this site is considered to be accurate at the time of posting but is subject to change as new information becomes available.
Greg Svelund, DEQ public information officer, 541-647-4194, firstname.lastname@example.org