Playing with fire in Butchertown. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
Playing with fire in Butchertown. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)
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We were trying to enjoy a warm Spring afternoon strolling around Butchertown last week when Washington Street was suddenly engulfed in thick black and white smoke. Attempting to track down the source, we found giant fires roaring half a block away at the corner of Quincy Street and Cabel Street at a MSD facility. The smell was foul and the smoke irritated our eyes. What were they doing?

There were about 30 fire extinguishers huddled in the MSD parking lot and someone with a device appearing to be a flame thrower repeatedly lit a mattress sized tray on fire and extinguished it. Each time, a giant plume of smoke rose into the air and wafted south to Washington Street. This had been going on before we got there and after we left.

It’s enough Butchertown has to put up with the malodorous Swift, but to be sandwiched in by another disrespectful neighbor seems unfair. We would guess they were testing fire extinguishers, but in a very rude manner considering there are houses 20–30 feet in multiple directions. Anyone know what the story it?

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Branden Klayko

6 COMMENTS

  1. Many industrial sites are required to have an annual fire extinguisher training for their employees. I’m sure this is what was being done here. While the location may not have been ideal the training was mandated and had to be done.

  2. I guess the burning mattress smelled better than the death that comes out of the swift plant. Where is the APCD??

  3. Mark is correct. From the pictures below it looks like the set up my former facility used to give every employee on extinguisher use. Most likely it’s a tray of diesel fuel, and using an extinguisher is more than just pointing and squeezing a handle. I’m sure it was less than pleasant for an hour or so, but the training is important and manditory.

    As a resident of Butchertown it’s real hard to imagine that the rest of the city sees us as anything other than a bunch of complainers. When was the last time we had a community event (that wasn’t put on by St. Joe’s)? We need to start inviting the rest of the city to enjoy our neighborhood, rather than just yell about how bad things suck.

  4. I can understand the importance of fire extinguisher training, but it still seems inappropriate to be doing it in the middle of a mixed-residential neighborhood. I don’t live in Butchertown, so I can’t speak for the neighborhood, but I do enjoy walking around the area and the smoke and smell was terribly unpleasant. It’s not location specific to set a tray of fuel on fire and put it out, so it should have been easy to hold the training exercise in another location. Especially when it’s a government entity like MSD.

  5. My guess would be it has probably been done that elsewhere in previous years but due to cost considerations was done where the employees work this year. That way it only requires about 15 minutes of a person’s time instead of several hours plus travel expenses. Sounds like a good economic decision to me.

  6. Matt….The Butchertown Neighborhood Assoc. is hard at work planning the Art Fair which will be on May 17th. This is held in conjunction with the Edison House garden tour. If you would like to be more active in the neighborhood, please let me know. Send your contact info to butchertown@gmail.com
    Thanks-
    Andy Cornelius
    BNA President

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