By Everdeen Mason, Mark McGregor, and Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News
PIKE TWP., Ohio — A massive blaze at an oil company took firefighters six hours to get under control Thursday and will require an extensive environmental cleanup.
More than 50 agencies responded — including every fire department in Clark County — to the fire at the R.D. Holder Oil Co., 2219 Folk Ream Road.
Get pricing, product info &
discounts from top companies.
The blaze produced flames that shot 200 feet up, black smoke could be seen as far away as Day-ton and Butler County, and the plume even showed up on weather radar.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials at the scene determined that oil spilled into a tributary of Donnels Creek, which feeds into Mad River, said spokeswoman Heather Lauer.
Officials used vacuum equipment and other techniques to remove environmental contaminants, according to Bethel Twp. and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Fire Chief Jacob King.
"We pushed hard to protect the environment," King said.
"We should have things back to normal in a couple days."
Public and private hazardous materials teams contained petroleum-based contaminants to no more than a quarter mile downstream, said Lt. Brian Wirth of Springfield Fire Rescue Division and a member of the Clark County hazardous materials team.
Firefighters ramped up the use of water and foam to quench the flames after the fire spread throughout R.D. Holder's entire facility.
A Bethel Twp. firefighter was treated for a minor leg injury, and all 15 employees at the R.D. Holder plant were accounted for. Homes in the surrounding area had minimal to no damage.
The fire started about 11 a.m. as R.D. Holder crews loaded a semi-tanker, said company owner Bob Holder.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but King believed it ignited while workers transferred a fluid from one tank to another. It was not immediately known what type of fluid was being transferred.
After about 45 minutes, firefighters ordered first responders and company employees back as the blaze spread. Transformers exploded and electric lines fell on the scene about 12:45 p.m., forcing firefighters back even more. And as the fire spread, the building began to collapse.
The company supplies diesel fuel, heating oil, gasoline, Dragon racing fuel, bio-diesels and lubricants.
Before the fire spread, R.D. Holder employees salvaged all servers and some files, and hope to operate out of their Bellefontaine facility today, Holder said.
At the time of the fire, Holder said the company only had lubricants at the site. However, King said the fire involved several petroleum products and fuel oil, including 55 gallon drums of petroleum product.
Some oil was found in the tributary near the facility. Lauer said the tributary was "running orange-red." Veolia Environmental Services of Dayton had booms in the tributary to try to stop the flow of the oil.
Michelle Simmons, environmental manager for the Day-ton Water Department, said her department recommended the Mad River intakes closed overnight as a precaution, even though the Ohio EPA does not expect any impact to the Mad River surface water from runoff.
"They expect minimal impact where our intakes are," she said. Any possible runoff will have passed the water supply intakes by morning, she said.
The city of Springfield's water supply isn't threatened by the fire runoff, Operations Engineer Tim Weaver said.
The Ohio EPA likely will monitor the stream and other water sources for the foreseeable future. Residents near the fire have well water, and several horse farms in the area rely on the stream.
Some surrounding homes were evacuated.
Having enough water to keep flames under control was a challenge. Without hydrants, fire crews trucked water into the site, including from Northwestern schools and a North Hampton water tower.
Firefighters used 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water a minute, King said.
Staff writers Michael Cooper, Matt Sanctis, Megan Gildow-Anthony and Jessica Heffner contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 Dayton Daily News