Fire slows destruction of army's chemical weapons

A possible fire in a piece of machinery temporarily halted work last week at the Anniston Army Depot’s chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston, Alabama.

Army spokesman Mike Abrams told the Anniston Star that no one was hurt in the incident, and that no chemical agents or live munitions were involved.

“The community was never in danger,” Abrams told the Anniston Star.

The fire was caused by an air chilling machine that overheated. Workers then implemented fire response plans. Abrams did not know whether an actual fire ensued or if it was merely smoke or other indications of overheating.

Located in a support room beside the processing building where chemical weapons are dismantled, the air chilling machine, according to Abrams, is part of a system that keeps the processing building at negative air pressure. In the event of a chemical weapons accident, the negative pressure keeps any air from escaping from the building.

All work at the facility was shut down as a precaution, despite the air chilling machine not being critical to the incineration process.

“It’s like a blown light bulb on the space shuttle," Abrams told the Anniston Star. "You don’t move forward until you are sure that everything is working at 100 percent.”