tv Caught on Camera MSNBC April 25, 2015 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
that's all for this edition of "caught on camera." the biggest explosions. >> damn! >> raging infernos. terrifying escapes. >> that was the day i thought i was going to die. >> we have the facility surrounded. >> brave responders. >> i couldn't believe my eyes. >> exploding projectiles. >> it was just like a rocket coming down. >> massive flames. >> it was hairy. it was hairy. i just closed my eyes and go oh, boy. >> enormous fireballs. >> pan back. pan back.
just had a huge explosion. i thought this is it, i better at least catch it on tape. "caught on camera boom." welcome to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. just going through our daily routines, we can be surrounded by dangerous materials and equipment and not even be aware of it. usually we have nothing to worry about because compressed gases, high-powered machines and blasting materials are safe when used and stored properly. but if one little thing goes wrong, the consequences can be disastrous. a fire breaks out at southwest industrial gases in dallas, texas, on july 25th, 2007. this is no ordinary fire.
on the lot are several hundred tanks filled with compressed gas, including oxygen, helium and one of the hottest burning gases of all, acetylene. >> acetylene burns at about 3400 degrees. it's used as far as what the common purpose knows mostly in welding and cutting. >> local tv news cameras record the blaze as it burns out of control. >> we didn't, of course, realize the scope of what the fire was going to be. >> the fire begins during a delivery of tanks to the refilling station. >> the delivery driver comes running in and says hey, man, i got a leak, i think i broke a valve and i can't shut it off. what do you want me to do? >> employee randy bibb grabs one of the fire extinguishers in case the escaping gas ignites. >> kind of just a green kind of
haze floating there, kind of greenish. i grabbed the fire hose and i just start fogging it because you know what's going to happen. it's getting ready to go. >> sure enough, in just a few seconds, it does. >> then whoosh. and the first fireball hit me, kind of knocked me hard and dropped the hose and i reached down for the hose and i noticed skin was just pouring off my hand like wax. damn, that happened fast. >> randy and others at the facility try to extinguish the flames but it's no use. >> i got scared. i didn't know what was going to happen. >> in less than a minute, another tank unleashes a fireball. randy's clothes ignite. >> when the second fireball hit me, threw me back maybe six, eight feet. i'm watching the flames kind of flicker up out of my shorts. >> one tank of compressed gas after another begins to explode. >> explosions were going over the top of the building. every time one of those would explode, you know, way up high over the top of the building, the heat radiant off there would just light me up.
>> incredibly, randy and the three other people at the facility are all able to get out before the entire place erupts into an inferno. minutes later, dallas fire rescue arrives. >> once we got there, we weren't sure exactly what was going on or why it was happening but we knew that we had a big problem with a lot of air cylinders. >> randy and a colleague are rushed to the hospital with multiple third degree burns. >> i was just all big bubbles everywhere. it was just crazy. from there, you know, the pain starts. once the adrenaline runs off. >> even with everyone out of the facility, fire officials are up against a formidable beast. >> initially, i had never seen anything like it. i just wondered, you know, what the heck is going on. >> the tanks are designed to release gas as they heat up, to relieve pressure. but under these extreme conditions, with so many tanks and so much fire, the released
gas ignites and causes a chain reaction that cooks the tanks beyond their limit, resulting in massive explosions. >> each time one of the acetylene cylinders reached approximately 1,000 pounds per square inch, that cylinder ruptured and it either ruptured in place or it ruptured, launching that cylinder into the air. >> we basically had projectiles that could kill a person and we didn't know when they were going to explode, how they were going to explode, what direction they may take off. >> the fire is too dangerous to try to put out. >> we are in a defensive mode. we have the facility surrounded and we are basically just in a defensive mode where we're just actually containing the fire. >> you don't want to extinguish the fire. you want to contain it.
and just let it burn itself out so that you're not releasing the free gas into the atmosphere to start another fire somewhere else. >> officials shut down a half mile wide area around the fire as the cylinders launch on to the nearby highway. >> we're so used to going in, handling the situation of putting the fire out, but this fire was leaving the situation, it was jumping on top of bridges and that was just something we hadn't seen before. >> nearby businesses get shelled. >> it was like a war zone. we don't know where the next cylinder's going to come down or where the next missile may land. that caused a lot of concern. >> people on the street are moving targets. >> i heard there are tanks that are exploding. when you hear those go off, they sound like mortar rounds and everybody looks up to wait for it to fall.
>> it was just like -- like a rocket coming down. just white with fire. >> even fire officials come under attack. >> all of a sudden, we hear this -- and hear this crashing and about 150 feet off to our side, one of the cylinders had come and landed in a parking lot over there. >> traffic is backed up for miles as huge explosions filled the sky all day long. >> we had fireball after fireball after fireball that was being created. simultaneously. >> several agencies monitor the air quality for contaminants. >> the gases look like they're dissipating. it doesn't look like there is a risk to the public in the vicinity. >> it takes nine hours for the fire to burn out. nearby cars and buildings are incinerated. >> i think we had some projectiles go over 1,000 feet from that location, and that's scary.
>> luckily, no one is killed. >> it was an act of fate or act of god that those projectiles were hitting things like empty freeways. >> randy bibb spends more than a month in the hospital. the fire changes his life forever. >> i couldn't just go out and work because i didn't know whether the next day when i got up if i would be able to go ten minutes without having to lay back down, you know. so i haven't worked since then. it's been tough. >> an investigation concludes the fire was the result of operator error during delivery. >> it seems as if there was a cap being placed on one of the cylinders and somehow, that cap was misaligned. that caught fire and then the fire just grew exponentially. >> the war-like blaze leaves its mark on those who battled it up close. >> i had never seen anything like this before. i couldn't even imagine something like this occurring and it really -- it really
changed the way i look at fires. >> coming up, a high speed chase ends in a fireball. a suicide bomber pulls the trigger. >> i thought i saw three people die. >> a propane factory unleashes a shock wave. >> it looked like those videos they use in movies of like a nuclear explosion. >> and a train blows sky-high. >> it just blew up. my god! my god! when caught on camera boom continues. it occurred to mindy she might actually be invisible. ♪ but mindy was actually not invisible. ooh, what are you doing? can you see me? she had just always been treated that way. yeah. you don't have to look at me like that.
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started tracking the wild chase from their helicopter early on the morning of august 13th, 2009. >> this guy was out to get away and he was going to do anything he could to go at any speed, to go anywhere he had to go in order to escape being caught. >> the eyes in the sky are in the middle of their morning job, calling traffic for the local radio and tv stations, when they notice a police car with its sirens on, following a pickup truck. they soon learn it's stolen. >> weaving in and out, people are slamming on their brakes, doing everything they can to avoid the situation. >> the driver crosses over into the oncoming lane and runs red lights. >> every single time that as we watched our monitors and continued to follow him at this high rate of speed, said this guy's crazy, he's, you know, what's he doing, what's he
doing? >> the stolen pickup bangs a right and accelerates down a residential street. those in the chopper are filled with dread. >> you start thinking about the mom in the caravan with the two, three kids and just the innocent bystanders that might get plowed over, head-on collision. >> smoke starts billowing from the vehicle. >> weren't really sure but we knew the smoke was probably an indication that something was about to happen. as it turned out, it did. >> but the chase is not over yet. the smoke stops and the pickup races down the wrong way on a three-lane road. >> i just closed my eyes and just clench and go oh, boy, i don't want to see it. i don't want to see it. i've been doing this for over 18 years. i've seen plenty. that's something i don't want to see. >> the driver swerves back and forth, blows more lights and intersections and narrowly misses a pedestrian. >> it was pretty dangerous, high speed, big maneuvers. >> the pickup approaches a red light with traffic, plows through and brushes up against a
car. >> he's racing towards the freeway. he sideswipes a car. at that point we went oh, boy, he's not stopping for anything. >> the stolen vehicle cuts off a van before racing on to the freeway. >> you just keep your fingers crossed that nobody is sort of just driving along and all of a sudden gets broadsided by a maniac. >> the truck crisscrosses through traffic, then gets off the freeway and runs several more red lights, narrowly missing another car. >> there was at least a half dozen instances where somebody would just slam on their brakes because they had the right-of-way at the green and he didn't and he would go right through the light and they would have to stop for him. >> but police stay in pursuit as the driver shows no sign of letting up. >> this person obviously was wanted for something. we didn't know what. and the last thing he wanted to
do was to surrender to the police officer that was chasing him. >> soon, the pickup is facing oncoming traffic again, and blowing more red lights. >> in times of danger like that when they were going wrong ways down one-way streets and stuff, the police would back off a little bit and continue pursuit when it got a little safer. >> at one intersection, the truck goes airborne but the driver keeps going, flying the wrong way down one-way streets and into oncoming traffic. >> this guy just kept going and going and going. >> after weaving through traffic, the truck approaches yet another intersection. this one has a green light, but a mini van begins to turn. >> i saw the mini van getting ready to turn, and the first thing that goes through my mind is don't do it. but the driver of that vehicle doesn't expect somebody to be racing at them at that high speed. >> the mini van slams into the pickup which then hits a light pole and bursts into flames while joe is live on the air. >> there was a terrible crash just now on michigan avenue. >> as i started my report, the accident did occur. >> it is amazing, this truck is just totally destroyed and on fire right now. >> everyone in the chopper following the case is stunned when the car explodes. >> it was a shock. i remember just this audible whoa came out of me because it was so spectacular. >> at the high rate of speed he was going, at the angle he
clipped that lamp post, i really think that's what ruptured the gas tank. >> the pickup first clips another truck coming out of a parking lot, then hits the light pole and explodes in front of the diner. >> big ball of fire. it was huge. we thought we were gone. >> debbie is working the grill. >> that was the day i thought i was going to die. >> the car explodes right in front of her and her customers. >> the front and the front tire went through that building there. >> patrons from the diner check on the driver of the truck that was clipped before the explosion. >> i remember seeing people coming out of the restaurant. it was just a flurry of activity. >> the police try to extinguish the fire, but it spreads. >> too much fire. the fire was too big. we even ran in here and got our
fire extinguisher. it just wasn't enough. >> somehow, everyone at the diner escapes injury. >> imagine if you had a group of people walking into the restaurant on the sidewalk at that hour. it was just sickening to think what the consequences could have been. >> the driver of the mini van and the truck in the parking lot both suffer minor injuries. >> i felt so relieved at least that no one innocent was injured severely as a result of this person's total disregard for safety, for respect for other people on the roadways. >> the driver of the stolen vehicle dies at the scene. he's later identified through dental records as 20-year-old daniel dool of detroit who had a criminal record for stealing cars. the wild chase was one for the record books for the traffic team. >> i doubt i ever will forget this one. no. every time we fly up michigan avenue, i do think of it. i still know exactly where that diner is. >> coming up, a fighter jet is
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butte, montana, 1989. plain clothes police officers are negotiating with a man who has rigged his car with explosives. suddenly, the vehicle explodes. >> i just couldn't believe what had happened, and my concern was now for my officers. i believed they were dead. >> sergeant dan hollis rushes to help one of the fallen officers when the bomber, terry rosland, emerges from the burning vehicle. >> i couldn't believe my eyes. terry was out of the vehicle. terry was actually on fire. >> the mayhem begins hours earlier after rosland robs a drugstore for valium. the sheriff quickly learns of
the incident. >> he showed them an attache case and told them he had a bomb inside of it and if he didn't get the valium, he would detonate. the pharmacist did the right thing. he gave him the valium. >> minutes later, local police are on the suspect's tail and soon he's cornered in downtown butte. >> tried to get him to move out of the residential and business area in the event he did detonate and he shut down in one of the busiest thoroughfares in butte. >> cameraman tom wreggett covers the standoff. >> they had the car stopped in the middle of the intersection. it was a couple fire trucks sitting kind of blocking the street, police cars, an ambulance sitting down the block a little bit, and they were just talking to the guy through the window. >> rosland tells police his car is rigged to blow sky-high and
they believe him. the suspect has threatened to blow himself up before but that incident ended peacefully. >> to me, that was a call that he was reaching out for help. when i first heard of this incident, i thought well, you know, terry's reaching out again, you know. >> this time, things will end differently. >> he warned us that he had a device, it was a pressure-release device, and if we tried to remove him from the vehicle, you know, it would set off the explosives. >> it turns out sergeant hollis is long-time friends with the bomber. >> terry and i met about 20 years prior to the incident. he was working at a convenience store and my partner and i would always stop in and visit with him, make sure he was okay. he would be working the graveyard shift. >> sergeant hollis, the sheriff and lieutenant bob lee communicate with rosland through a crack in the window, trying to convince him to give up peacefully. >> we tried to talk him into not even thinking about taking his life, because he was so young, and that he had a family. >> but they are alarmed by what they see inside the car.
>> he had a couple gallons of what appeared to me to be gasoline in a box with pipe bombs and some more gun powder and things like this in the back seat. >> rosland sips cough syrup and asks to see his wife and son. >> kept inquiring about bringing his family there, and that's a no-no as far as i was concerned. we kept saying that we couldn't locate them, which we couldn't at that time. >> they were having problems, she was going to file for divorce. he had left the residence, was taking some medication for depression, some other things. so this probably might have been the, you know, thing that pushed him over. >> a crowd gathers as the standoff intensifies. >> it was back and forth. police kept coming up and talking to him and then they would walk away and then they would come back and walk away, and he would signal them to come
up. >> rosland asks for more drugs. >> he requested valium and codeine and things of that nature, and he was taking those items while we had him stopped. we decided to go ahead and try and immobilize his vehicle even further by letting air out of his tires. >> but as rosland becomes more disoriented, sergeant hollis becomes more concerned. >> when those drugs started to take effect, terry's personality changed and he was just really being agitated and angry, and that's when i went back and told lieutenant lee and the sheriff he just might do this. >> rosland motions for the sheriff and lieutenant lee. they lean in, hoping the suspect is going to give up. >> i thought at that point that he was going to disarm the explosives. >> instead, rosland detonates the bomb. >> all i could remember seeing and feeling a burst of power hit my chest and explosives hit my chest. and a big ball of orange flame. i was totally engulfed in flame.
>> i thought i saw three people die. i really did think i saw three people die. >> incredibly, moments later, the sheriff is back on his feet. then he sees rosland emerge from the burning vehicle. >> he was totally engulfed in flames. >> rosland falls to the ground when a second bomb in the back seat of the car explodes. rescue workers spring into action and transport the victims to the hospital. the fire department works to bring the inferno under control. >> we were getting sprayed with glass and the concussion of the explosion, you felt it. it was pretty intense. >> both the sheriff and lieutenant lee survive the explosion with only minor
injuries. >> i don't know how we survived it. that convinced me that there was somebody up there that wanted me to stay here a little bit longer. >> terry rosland has burns over 70% of his body, but he, too, survives. >> i did not have any idea that he actually survived that explosion. after seeing that, i was -- there was no way that anybody could live through that. but he did. >> rosland takes his own life before his trial begins. >> it was unfortunate, i wish that we could have done more for him. i just don't know what it would have been. >> coming up, a tank filled with crude oil unleashes a texas-sized explosion. >> it was hot.
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the u.s. is sending a disaster team and $1 million in aid to nepal after a deadly earthquake there. at least 1400 were killed. a search and rescue team in virginia is paking up ready to go. they are warning people to prepare for a more aggressive eruption after a volcano erupted twice this week without warning. there are concerns that the toxic ash could contaminate the water supply. back to caught on camera. welcome back to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. air shows are meant to showcase
the abilities of planes and pilots with death-defying stunts and precision maneuvers. but at one show in canada, it was how the pilot exited the aircraft that got the spectators' attention. a military fighter jet, the canadian air force's cf-18 hornet, is practicing a low speed, low altitude maneuver called an alpha pass, for the left bridge international air show in alberta. the air show doesn't officially start until the next day, but some eager aviation buffs are on hand to see the action. all eyes are on the plane as it swoops overhead. the spectators are about to get a show they'll never forget. two cameras are recording the well-trained pilot's tricky move. one camera zooms in.
the other stays wide as the plane slows and starts to turn. suddenly, the pilot ejects. the plane wobbles, then dives nose first into the ground. the multi million dollar war machine explodes into a fireball. thick black smoke billows into the air. the twisted wreckage burns out of control. onlookers are horrified as emergency crews rush to the scene. dramatic close-up photographs show the pilot ejecting from the cockpit seconds from death. he's taken to the hospital. captain brian mews of the 425 tactical wing compresses three vertebrae in his back but incredibly, makes a full recovery and tells his story to matt lauer on the "today" show. >> no, the training did kick in. it became obvious what i needed to do and i was well trained for it and it was just a matter of pulling the handle and going for a ride.
>> the captain is just 100 feet from the ground when he triggers his rocket-propelled ejection seat. >> i knew where the jet was going and i didn't want to be there with it, so i knew my only chance of survival was to pull the ejection handle. >> it launches him into the air at more than 100 miles per hour. >> it was quite a ride. i remember the whole thing. i remember pulling the handle. the canopy jettisons out from below you and watching it crash into the ground was quite surreal. >> he lands dangerously close to the fireball and is dragged along the runway before finally coming to a rest. >> well, i knew i was landing close to the fireball but i had so much other things going through my mind that it didn't really occur to me that i could get pulled into the fireball. once i was being dragged away from the fireball, then i knew that that was better, then i was just trying to get out of my parachute. >> the captain is hand-picked to perform at the air show because of his experience and expertise, and says the plane malfunctioned.
>> when i added the power, it turned sharply to the right, started sliding through the air and then the nose dropped. so when i started feeling the jet sliding to the right, i knew there was a problem and i tried to fight it for a second or two, and the jet was just not responsive to whatever i was doing to it. >> while an investigation into what caused the plane to crash is still under way, the captain says he's eager to get back in the cockpit. >> i would get in a jet today >> also in canada, a fire breaks out at a propane facility in toronto, ontario, shortly before 4:00 in the morning. it quickly spreads into a seemingly bottomless pit of flames, and exploding cylinders of propane. >> when we got to the scene, we actually had small cylinders that were exploding and rocketing several hundred feet in the air. >> in the predawn darkness, huge clouds of propane flare up like explosions from hell.
dark smoke billows from the uncontrollable blaze. cannisters shoot up like rockets. >> most of them were the smaller cylinders. they are commonly called a 33-pound cylinder. this site had hundreds and hundreds of those on site and that's what was rocketing up in the air. my biggest concern was where was the staff, because we couldn't see them coming down. >> the fire began at a 24 hour propane supply business. >> there was an accident and it ni se was a f vapor cloud explosion. there was a tremendous amount of force. >> the initial explosion severely damages several nearby houses. residents are awakened from their sleep and run for their lives. >> the house actually shook and the windows blew. and the door, the glass, fell on my bed and my sister started screaming.
>> we even had the entire drywall ceilings completely flattened, knocked out of the ceiling of a house and flat down on the floor or over the beds and this type of thing in the adjacent area. >> but an even bigger explosion is brewing. there are several huge tanker trucks at the facility, each filled with as much as 30,000 gallons of propane. soon after the fire starts, one of the tanks explodes. >> look at that! look at the fire! holy [ bleep ]! >> oh, my god. >> the explosion is caught on camera by andrew bishop. >> holy [ bleep ]. >> it looked like those videos they use in movies of like a nuclear explosion, just like dropping an atom bomb or something, mushroom clouds. seemed unreal. >> the initial blast that starts the fire wakes andrew up and he begins recording the scene from his balcony. >> woke me up so hard-core. >> i thought it could have been an earthquake or maybe something hit my building or something like that. i had no clue that like anything
had exploded. >> then the 30,000 gallon propane tank explodes. >> i was shocked more than scared. i had never seen anything like it before. >> the shock wave hits him. >> damn! >> that's part of the reason the camera went shaky. all of a sudden we get this big push coming at us and everything's moving, so it was just like surreal. that was the biggest -- the loudest sound i had ever heard. >> the massive explosion blows out windows and sets off car alarms. >> every car parked out here, the alarm was going off and everybody was running outside to see what was going on. >> the fiery cloud slowly dissipates into the night sky. >> it was bright orange and it seemed to lift, like this aura from it, like i don't know, craziness. >> enormous blast is the result of the fire melting the steel
surrounding the tank, followed by the massive release of propane. the explosion is called a blevy. >> a blevy is a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. the steel will weaken because of the heating and because of the pressure inside, it ruptures and that pressurized gas is released very, very quickly. >> the fire department tries to keep the other tanks from exploding by cooling them with water. >> we put the water where the flame is impinging on the steel to keep that steel cool so it won't fail. you're controlling the fire, not really putting it out. >> authorities evacuate the neighborhood, close highways and air space and pump water for 15 straight hours. >> we just phone down to the water pumping stations, have them increase the pressure for us because we're using such large amounts of water. we were putting on 500 gallons a minute from two directions so 1,000 gallons a minute to prevent another blevy. >> the fire finally burns itself out.
but the disaster zone isn't safe for more than a month. >> over the next 36 days, we were still on scene because there were thousands of hundred pound cylinders that could have been damaged. once you start to move them, they could explode. >> one employee is killed in the fire and a firefighter dies of a heart attack. the enormous inferno leaves its mark on canada's largest city. >> this was a six-alarm fire in toronto and we've had six-alarm fires for high rise buildings and factories and other things like that, but this was certainly a significant event because it wasn't just the fire. it was the exploding as well. >> coming up -- >> pan back, pan back. pan back. just had a huge explosion. >> a mystery train in flames unleashes a toxic cloud. >> i haven't seen flames or smoke go that high before. >> we're going to have burn victims. >> firefighters get too close to a cauldron of crude.
when caught on camera boom continues. nvisible, it occurred to mindy she might actually be invisible. ♪ but mindy was actually not invisible. ooh, what are you doing? can you see me? she had just always been treated that way. yeah. you don't have to look at me like that. there are worst things than an attractive woman touching your body. i'll go. join the nation that sees you as a priority. ♪ nationwide is on your side hey, scott! this is no time for lollygaggin', lad. the chickweed and the dandelions are reekin' mad havoc! now's the time to send in the scotts turf builder weed and feed, man! it kills weeds while it feeds and strengthens your grass. feed your lawn. feed it! you want yeah, right.ust one? i say if it looks tasty, order it. because at red lobster's create your own seafood trio i can have it all. choose 3 of 9 dishes for just $15.99.
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for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services. an oil tank has been burning for hours in three rivers, texas, on august 10th, 1990. fire department personnel think they have it under control. then all of a sudden, the ground begins to tremble. medic lisa stewart is at the scene. >> you could hear it just rumbling and shaking the ground and it just sounded awful. >> suddenly, the oil tank erupts like a volcano. >> and when it blew, everybody ran. it was chaos. >> people fleed and a water
truck tries to speed away. >> it was hot. people were running and scattering. >> the flames grow bigger and bigger as everyone runs for their life, including kens tv cameraman david villareal. >> i got my -- >> you okay? >> yeah. >> the heat radiated very intensely. i got second and third degree burns on my arms and the only thing i can think of was to grab my camera and cover my face. >> the super-heated vapor cloud scorches everyone nearby. >> the fire and the cloud was just like a mushroom cloud, just like one of the atomic explosions you would see on tv. >> people down there going to be burnt bad. >> lisa helps treat several badly burned firefighters. >> i remember we started taking off people's shirts and just
pouring some of the water, the drinking water, on them or soaking their teeshirts in ice water, putting them back on there. >> give me that glass of water. my arm's burning. >> we had to triage and get the worst ones we thought needed to get to the hospital, of course the ones that skin was coming off and couldn't walk or burned, you know, more than 25%, 30% of their body. >> the oil tank catches fire hours earlier. lisa stewart is one of the first responders. >> the flames were shooting up hundreds of yards and black smoke was just everywhere. >> when cameraman david villareal gets to the scene, he moves as close as he can to the fire and begins filming. >> i was probably about two football fields away from the tank itself, still smoking and
occasional flames. >> it's been going on since you got here. >> just trying to get enough foam and water on there to go ahead and try and knock it out. >> the smoking caldron ominously flares up. >> what causes the flash we keep seeing? >> right now, it could be several things. as i was videotaping the tank fire, there were a few flare-ups and you could see the flame billow out but just as soon as it flared up, they put water on it and it would go back down. >> officials believe the fire is close to being extinguished. >> i assume that whatever oil was in there was just burning itself out. and all the firemen became, you know, relaxed. some pulled out sandwiches. went and got myself and drink and was ready to pack and leave. >> but a dangerous condition known as a boilover is brewing. >> couple of fire departments looked at the footage and, you
know, was apparently one of the first times a boilover type explosion had ever been caught on tape. >> a boilover can occur during oil tank fires because oil is lighter than water. the water being pumped on to the burning oil tank sinks to the bottom, where it eventually boils into steam and explodes, propelling the flaming oil on top into the sky, and the surrounding area. >> where were you at when the explosion happened? >> i was up there with the nozzles on the tank. it started to boil over. by the time we noticed it was going to boil over, we backed out, it was too late. it flashed on us. >> it was a mad dash for survival. everybody was running as fast as they could away from the fire. the heat was so intense, we didn't know when it was going to stop. >> before the explosion, the fire department is aware of the boilover danger but believes they have it under control. >> we will stop operation in ten minutes. >> firefighters can prevent a
boilover from happening by making sure the water sprayed on the tank drains out the bottom. this time, they miscalculate. >> what do you think caused that explosion? >> just water inside the tank boiled over. crude boilover. >> despite the chaos, david's instincts kick in. he keeps taping as he runs away from the intense heat and flames.
>> for a split second i thought this is it. how i had the presence of mind >> more than 30 people are burned by the blast, including david, who radios for help. >> this thing blew up. we're going to have burn victims. >> i had blisters the size of oranges on my arm and it was pretty painful and needed to be treated. i was out of work for like three months until i recovered. >> firefighters who thought the fire was under control suffer some of the worst injuries. >> the ones that were resting, took off some of their bunker gear. and the ones who had their bunker gear off and started running, that's when they got burned. >> how badly are you burned? >> i'm not burned real bad. some are burned worse. i got some burns on my back, my ear. >> what were you thinking about when it happened? >> thinking about who could run the fastest. >> was the hottest day of my life. i'll always remember it. >> fortunately, no one loses their life but this explosion is a lesson learned. coming up -- >> it just blew up. my god. >> a freight train filled with flammable liquids turns into a thunder ball. >> felt like somebody opened an oven door. you pay your auto insu rance premium every month on the dot. you're like the poster child for paying on time. and then one day you tap the bumper of a station wagon. no big deal... until your insurance company jacks up your rates.
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luther, oklahoma, in 2008. >> i was really concerned because it was burning very hot, very rapidly, and so i knew that possibly something could happen at any moment. >> helicopter news reporter jim gardiner covers the accident. >> we arrived on scene, we could actually see jets of flame coming out of the cracks of the tank on the ground. i mean, it was shooting just big jets of flame. >> jim stays upwind of the inferno, unsure what the train cars are carrying. >> you always want to know where the wind is. you want to be real cautious because obviously if it's a toxic chemical, you don't want to end up downwind of a train derailment and get any of the smoke or fumes that come off of it. >> on the ground, j.t. langston from the luther volunteer fire department is one of the first on the scene. >> it was going pretty good.
the fire was going pretty hot and heavy there when we got there. >> the fire department doesn't know what the train cars are carrying, either. >> i didn't know what was in them or how bad it was at that point in time. i just knew that we needed to get on it pretty quick or we were going to have trouble. >> luther fire chief brian martin is faced with the most dangerous situation of his career. his small department isn't trained to deal with hazardous material. >> that requires specialty training. a lot of that training isn't available sometimes. and my biggest issue with everything was always keeping my guys safe. we wanted to know what we had, what we were going to do, before we sent anybody in. >> the fire department is outmatched. >> i think it scared us all because it was what are we going to do and how are we going to do it. >> the fire department calls in reinforcements as the toxic blaze spreads to a nearby oil pump. >> it caught an oil well on fire
with a horsehead pump that was several feet away from it. that's how intense the heat was. >> fire officials soon learn the train cars are carrying crude oil and ethanol. >> we went ahead and evacuated two miles downwind and a mile each side of it just to make sure that everybody was out of any kind of smoke cloud or anything else. >> huge flames spew from the super-heated inferno and thick dark smoke fills the sky. >> pan back. pan back. pan back. we just had a huge explosion. >> it really kind of surprised us, caught us off guard. >> suddenly, one of the train cars explodes in a gigantic plume of fire. >> just blew up. my god! my god! >> it was just unbelievable. i'm at 1,000 feet and i'm thinking this is not stopping. it just keeps growing and growing. pretty soon i'm looking out my door level with this huge mushroom cloud.
>> the explosion was -- it was just pretty amazing. i haven't seen flames or smoke go that high before. >> the massive eruption catches firefighters by surprise. >> all of us just kind of looked up like wow. >> we heard it, we felt it. just the heat off of it was unimaginable. then it was like well, what are we going to do next. do we need to start moving people farther back. >> even though the firefighters are a safe distance away, they feel the intense heat of the explosion. >> we were a half mile away and it felt like somebody opened an oven door. it was a big bang, then you just felt the heat and saw the flames shooting through the air. >> jim feels the heat in the chopper. >> we have a little sliding window on the side of the helicopter doors on the front, you know, to get air. i actually had one slid back on the co-pilot's side. you could actually feel the heat come through that little window when it passed us. very hot, very intense. anybody, if they had been on the ground close to it spraying water on it, they would have got
burned. >> fortunately, the train explodes just outside of town and no one is injured by the blast. >> another mile down the road, it had been right here in the middle of our town. it could have been a really messy deal. >> after the explosion, the fire eventually burns itself out. >> all 26 years of flying and all the news that i've covered, it will be one of the things that will stick in my mind just from the fact it was such a large ball of fire and it came so high. >> oh, it just blew up. my god! my god! >> whether the cause is mechanical failure or human error, when combustible materials get out of control, you can expect big fires, big explosions and big booms. i'm contessa brewer. that's all for this edition of "caught on camera."
♪ i'm alex witt live in washington, d.c. welcome to our special coverage of the white house correspond t correspondents dinner. the annual event when the commander in chief becomes comedian in chief. >> my fellow americans. gl thank you and good evening. i did not want to be here tonight. >> i'm delighted to be here. >> pause for laughter. >> washington and hollywood. >> this is no ordinary dinner. gl this dinner's gotten out of hand in resent years. >> this is so much cooler. >> welcome to nerd prom.