At least 46 people were taken to several hospitals on Tuesday, including one to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, after a vacuum truck explosion in Santa Paula released about a 1,000 gallons of an unknown substance and resulted in a fire.
The explosion happened around 3:45 a.m. according to Ventura County fire officials, and the resulting fire caused Highway 126 to shut down for several hours while the area around the incident was under evacuation. The highway has since reopened, with the ramps to Briggs Road and Mission Rock Road still closed the Ventura County Star reported.
The spilled material sparked several fires in the area. Firefighters had to allow these fires to burn due to the risk of a possible explosion.
“If we add water, the water could carry the chemical into the Santa Clara River” Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Mike Lindbery told reporters at a press conference.
The chemical mixture included a form of organic peroxide, which was described as highly sensitive, according to authorities The Signal reported.
Two of the 46 patients were being treated for injuries, while the other 44 were being treated for possible exposure to the chemical substance. All but three that went to hospitals were treated at the Ventura County Medical Center, while two were taken to other local hospitals and one was taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
“Only one patient was taken to Henry Mayo, and he’s in good condition,” Director of Public Relations Patrick Moody said.
Smoke has been reported to still be coming from the site late Tuesday, with cleanup efforts already underway.
Information from The Ventura County Star and The Signal was used in this report.