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Enschede: Lessons to Relearn

My paper "Enschede: Lessons to Relearn" on the SE Fireworks tragedy was presented at the International Fireworks Symposium.

 

My visit to the memorial to the Brandweermannen (firemen) and the "nabestaanden" (those who are left behind) as a result of the tragedy at the SE Fireworks facility, May 13, 2000.

 

 

The fire fighters attacking what they initially thought was a low risk combustibles fire of 1.4G fireworks at the SE Fireworks facility. These four fire fighters were killed by the first of the three large blasts.

 

The SE Fireworks facility (circled) was locate din a mixed industrial, commercial and residential district known as Rombeek.

 

The hot, dry and windy conditions combined with the loss of tiles from roofs and glass from windows from the blast shockwaves allowed firebrand from the fireworks and fires in nearby structure fires to spread rapidly.

 

In spite of high quality buildings with fire resistant exterior tile roofs and brick facades, firefighters were quickly overwhelmed by the speed and intensity of the secondary fires that spread after the three large explosions at the SE Fireworks facility.

 

The volume and color of the smoke is an indication of the volume and types of fuel being consumed. The gray-white smoke is from the fireworks functioning and and the subsequent blasts; the black smoke is from secondary fires such as structures and automobiles.

 

The fires burned for hours before firefighters from Enschede and as far communities over 50 miles away finally brought them under control.

 

The aftermath in one of the neighborhoods over 100 meters from the SE Fireworks facility that were destroyed by the secondary fires.

 

The result of this disaster was at least 22 fatalities, almost 1,000 seriously injured and over 400 homes and businesses destroyed. The majority of the 200,000 kilos of fireworks stored here should have been classified at least 1.3G, and were stored too close together and to a populated area.

 

My picture of a young girl looking through the Plexiglas windows of the plywood wall around the neighborhood destroyed by the explosions and fires. People came from all over to view the devastation and leave flowers and notes of sympathy.


 May 2000, Weeth & Associates, LLC , La Crosse, WI USA. All rights reserved worldwide.

Revised September 17, 2005