Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Client: Major Transportation Company
Contract Amount: $30,000
Three 28-foot trailers on a three-car articulated rail flatcar were destroyed by fire. The State Fire Marshal indicated that the most probable cause of the fire was a load shift on a LTL and autoignition of chemicals. The LTL was being held responsible for a loss of $300,000 by an LTL carrier on an adjacent flatcar.
Remtech engineers was engaged (four months after the incident) to conduct an independent fire investigation. The chemicals involved were dilute janitorial and metal cleaning products and oil based paints. Dental cleaning materials contained 15% sulfamic acid and 10% sodium hydroxide solutions. An aluminum cleaner contained 10 to 30% phosphoric acid.
Paints contained solvents, powdered metals (aluminum, titanium), and propellants. Other potential metal catalysts included the aluminum trailer, copper, brass, aluminum and zinc electrical fittings. Potential combustible reactants included paper, cardboard, and cloth medical dressings.
Janitorial cleaning chemicals contained glycols, surfactants, and ammonia compounds.