Sasebo probing cause of fire at Maebata
Investigators combed the charred remains of the Navy’s Maebata Ordnance Facility carpenter’s shop Sunday in an effort to determine what sparked the blaze that destroyed the 64-year-old building.
There were no injuries in the fire, said Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo spokesman Charles Howard Sunday afternoon.
Howard said no ordnance of any kind was stored in the building and that base firefighters were at the scene within two minutes of Saturday’s 4:08 p.m.-reported fire.
“Fire fighters from the CNFJ Fire Department station at Maebata responded to the fire in two minutes and were assisted by units from the Main Base Fire Department,” Howard wrote in a statement. “In all, about 60 fire fighters, two ladder trucks and five tanker trucks fought the blaze.”
Howard said the fire was fully contained by 5:30 p.m.
“On-scene fire commanders said that at no time were any Sasebo citizens in danger, nor were any of the facility’s ordnance storage areas threatened,” he said.
The building was an all-wood structure of about 6,300 square feet that was built in 1942, he said.
“While primarily used for carpentry work, such as building wood pallets for storing and moving ordnance, it also contained a welding station and associated equipment such as acetylene tanks” he said.
It was the acetylene tanks that concerned the firefighters most.
“They were a primary reason the fire was allowed to burn so long,” Howard said. “Safety features of the tanks prevent them from exploding by periodically venting gas from within when exposed to high heat.”
The vented gas and the wood inside the building provided plenty of fuel for the blaze, Howard said.
He said local Japanese firefighters were requested to stand by at Sasebo’s main base in case an emergency arose while Navy units were battling the Maebata blaze.
“Fleet Activities Sasebo very much values the Mutual Support Agreement our fire departments have to assist one another in times of need,” he stated.
“The investigation will continue until investigators from the Sasebo Fire Department, Sasebo Police Department and CFAS are confident their work is complete,” Howard said.