Photos: Hydrogen Leak Causes Evacuations in El Cajon

The cause of Wednesday's incident at an East County manufacturer that caused evacuations and several street closings was being investigated.

 A delivery truck carrying liquid hydrogen caught fire at an El Cajon business Wednesday morning, forcing nearby businesses to shelter in place and the evacuation of several area schools.

Acting battalion chief Chris Case of Heartland Fire & Rescue told KOGO News at the scene the incident happened at 8:10 a.m. at Veridiam on 1717 Cuyamaca Street.Veridiam, a custom metal tubing specialist that services the aerospace, health care and nuclear power industries.

Case said a delivery truck driver told fire crews that a tanker carrying between 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen somehow caught fire and possibly exploded in its tanker.  He says when crews assessed the tanker, they found product in the tanker was venting as designed due to a safety mechanism.

David Hunter who works as a maintenance manager at a nearby condo complex, told KOGO News he heard a loud concussion bang and said he thought it be an explosion.  A woman who works at a firm next door to Veridiam said they were worried that the hydrogen could explode and cause a lot of damage.

The Grossmont Union High School District ordered the evacuation of students at IDEA Center, Chaparral High and Merit Academy to Grossmont High School.  .Several businesses near the area were given shelter-in-place orders. 

The trolley also was affected with the Sycuan Green Line rerouted at Arnele Station and the Orange line was rerouted at El Cajon Transit Center, according to San Diego Metropolitan Transit System officials.  Operations at Gillespie Field, which is located west of where the incident occurred, were not affected.

Case said a hazardous materials team was brought in to inspect the truck, but he told reporters that the immediate area was in no danger despite the shelter-in-place orders and school evacuations.

According to Case, the product was being burned off as it vented -- a process that did not pose a threat. Hazmat crews were able to safely contain the situation, allowing the liquid hydrogen to air out and turning off a valve. Road closures and shelter-in-place orders were lifted by noon. There were no reports of injuries. The cause of the incident was under investigation.

(Photos KOGO News)

Hydrogen Leak Tanker 8 29 18
El Cajon Hydrogen Leak 8 29 18
Hydrogen Leak Veridiam El Cajon 8 29 18


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