CROFT, S.C. — Two Croft firefighters have a new appreciation for their protective gear after a pickup truck exploded on them.
The fire department responded to a vehicle fire around 5:00pm Wednesday on Blanchard Road near Carolina Country Club Road.
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"It's the small calls like this everyday that can really put a firefighter out for his career," said Croft Fire Chief Lewis Hayes.
When firefighters arrived, a Ford Ranger had flames coming from the engine and cab area. The driver had already safely gotten out. As two firefighters were spraying the truck with water from a distance of about five feet, the truck exploded in a shower of white sparks and flames.
Another firefighter had a camera mounted on his helmet and captured video of the explosion. Click on the video above to see it for yourself. You can see the two firefighters engulfed in the ball of showering metal. Chief Hayes says the video is an invaluable teaching tool.
"We can show other firefighters across the country that a routine call like this can turn into something that can end your career if you aren't wearing your protective gear," says Hayes.
He says many firefighters don't wear their face mask and breathing apparatus when putting out vehicle fires. But his firefighters were wearing the gear, and Hayes says it saved them from serious injuries.
"They no doubt would have had severe facial burns," says Hayes.
Hayes says the explosion was caused by the magnesium that is used in the production of most of today's vehicles. But he says magnesium explosions are rarely that large.
"This was a really big one," says Hayes. "From now on, we will stand farther back from vehicles when putting water on them because the explosion really occurs when the water hits the burning magnesium."
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