This is a blurry camera-phone photo I took this afternoon while fleeing (okay, leaving in an orderly fashion) my office in downtown Kansas City due to a massive fire at a nearby chemical plant. We could see the enormous plume of smoke quite clearly from our office and it didn't take long before our company officials told us to go home.
I live about 10 miles from the site of the fire, but the wind has blown the smoke and haze directly my way and it smells a little chlorine-y outside now.
The EPA keeps saying via the local TV news that the air is perfectly safe to breathe. Pardon me if I don't believe a word of it. When 100+ different chemicals are exploding and burning, I can't help but suspect that the smoky air may not be ideal for prolonging a healthy life.
I took my laptop home in case it seems like a bad idea to return to the office in the morning. Apparently the fire is pretty much out of control and it may be days before it burns itself out. Another delightful aspect of the story is that there are chemical-filled rail cars so close to the fire that the flames are licking them. Nobody seems to be able to say what toxic goodness awaits within should the cars explode.
Can I come live in your city for a while?
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Update 2/8/07: The word seems to be that the air really is safe to breathe even though the fire is still burning vigorously. Best of all, the rail cars (which it turns out are filled with highly flammable paint thinner) didn't explode. I guess I'll be headed to the office later this morning.
Amazingly, nobody was seriously hurt in all of this, although several nearby houses and businesses burned. Here's an article about the fire from a local TV news channel, if you're interested in reading more.