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Table 1 List of fires important to the study of the environmental impact of fire (ISO, 2011)

From: Environmental impact of fire

Date Location Description
1962-Present Centralia, PA, USA Coal mine fire that has been continuously burning causing a large majority of the town to evacuate. Currently there are less than 15 residents still in the town. The fire is extremely difficult to reach and extinguish, though many attempts had been made. The environmental impacts of this fire is the air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, vegetation die-off. (Brnich & Kowalski-Trakofker 2010) (Nolter & Vice, 2004) (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 2013)
February 1982 Yorkshire, UK Fire at a warehouse in Yorkshire grew very quickly. The fire department was provided with Transport Emergency Cards (TREM) relating to Herbicides and Octylphenol, however the fire grew very quickly. The fire department attacked the fire with water. The runoff caused widespread major pollution of the local water and land. (Health and Safety Executive, 1993) (Nelson, 2000)
November 1986 Basel, Switzerland Sandoz chemical warehouse was a fire that triggered the study of the environmental impacts of fire worldwide. 10 years after the fire, the eels in the Rhine were not consumable (New Zealand Fire Service, 2001) (McNamee, 2014).
May 1987 Northern China & Southern Russia The Black Dragon fire burnt a total of 72,884 km2 (28,141 sq mi) of forest along the Amur river, with three million acres (4687.5 mile2) destroyed on the Chinese side. (Salisbury 1988)
October 1987 Nantes, France A chemical warehouse storing inorganic fertilizers suffered a major blaze due to self-sustained decomposition of 20 t of N-P-K products, releasing a massive toxic plume that eventually dispersed over the ocean. Some 15 000 people were evacuated as a precaution. Afterwards, an experimental assessment of the plume toxicity confirmed the toxicity of the effluents (Marlair et al. 2004).
June 1987 Ohio, USA Sherwin Williams paint warehouse stored almost 1.5 million gallons of paint. Significant because warehouse was located over several aquafers. Also notable for the fact that the fire service assessed the risk of the extinguishment vs the risk of polluting the aquifer. (USFA, 1987)
June 1988 Tours, France Known as the “Protex” fire, this chemical fire spread vigorously due to the close proximity of flammable and toxic products. The plume zone was some 30 km long and 12 km large (fire plume zone) and provoked major pollution of the river Brenne (Marlair et al. 2004).
February 1990 & May 1990 Hagersville, Canada and Saint-Amable, Canada Two of the numerous large-scale tire waste fires that have taken place in North America. Tire fires last several days to several months, lead to massive air, soil and water pollution, and extreme difficulties in fire-fighting. Evacuation of people is required in some cases, and fresh water sometimes disrupted for long periods. Lessons learned led to the production of useful guidelines in North America and Europe (Marlair et al. 2004).
1991 Kuwait As a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, oil wells were systematically damaged through the use of explosives, resulting in uncontrolled gas and oil blowout fires in some 700 wells. The environmental contamination by both oil leakage and fire gases was severe, in relation with the tremendously important and long-lasting releases of pollutants (equivalent to some 7 400 000 bbls/day) that have affected air and soil, according to the NIST evaluation report from 1994. (EPA, 1991) (Additional file 1).
July 1992 South Bradford, UK A major pollution of the aquatic environment resulted from the run-off of some 16 000 m3 of contaminated water used to fight a fire in the plant of a chemical manufacturer: the UK reference in matters of pollution by contaminated water run- off in fresh water streams. The origin was the proximity of storage of incompatible chemicals. (New Zealand Fire Service, 2001) (Health and Safety Executive, 1993)
October 1995 Wilton, UK Polypropylene warehouse fire on a chemical complex, which raged for 12 h, due to fault in the lighting system. Some of the fire protection features did not operate correctly as a result of the smoke ventilation system prevented the fusible links of the fire doors to close. The incident generated large quantities of smoke, but an on-site risk assessment considered the smoke non-toxic. (Health and Safety Executive(b), 1995)
December 1995 Somerset West, South Africa Massive fire of a sulfur stockpile used by three different companies in industrial applications. A unique proof that fire toxicity is a lethal threat, even in the open environment (Marlair et al. 2004).
June 2001 Venizel, France A fire accident in a paper mill containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) transformers presented considerable difficulties for emergency response management, and required the medical survey over a year of some 100 people (including journalists), liable to have suffered some exposure to dioxins and PAHs. A case study which reveals that, until the phase-out of a banned product is fully effective, the threat remains. An instructive report was produced on the aftermath of the fire and made public by the French authorities (Marlair et al. 2004).
January 2002 Murcia, France Large release of toxic effluents arising from a warehouse storing inorganic fertilizers (NPK) in a scenario quite similar to that which occurred in Nantes in 1987.
December 2005 Buncefield, UK A major fire occurring in an oil storage depot which contained 35,000,000 l of various types of fuel. The fire burned for several days, emitting massive plumes of dense smoke which, due to the prevailing meteorological conditions, were transported and dispersed in the upper atmosphere. The groundwater under and up to 2 km to the North, East and South-East of the site was contaminated with hydrocarbons and fire-fighting foams from the incident. After two years, the extent of the contamination appeared to be confined to within the immediate vicinity of the depot. Approx. 22,000,000 l of contaminated fire-fighting water has been treated and safely disposed of. (Health and Safety Commission (c), 2006)
February 2009 Victoria, Australia A series of brushfires in Victoria, Australia, that were Australia’s worst ever natural disaster. They were extreme brushfire-weather conditions resulted in 173 deaths and 414 injuries. There were also 450,000 ha burnt.