Firefighters, 911 calls depict moments leading to Eastman explosion

At least two explosion rocked Eastman's coal gasification plant in Kingsport last Wednesday. The company says there were no injuries and no impact to health or the environment.

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – News Channel 11 obtained 911 dispatch calls surrounding the incident at Eastman.

The audio depicted an urgency to get all firefighters to the scene, and News Channel 11’s Elizabeth Kuebel spoke to some of the people responding to those calls for help.
Kingsport Fire Department Senior Captain Terry Arnold responded to Eastman Wednesday morning.

He says the initial call came in asking for what’s called a full assignment, which means five engines and a ladder truck. Arnold said it was an unusual request considering the chemical company usually asks for one engine.

“We knew if Eastman was asking for that much, they had something that was or could be even worse,” Arnold said.

The senior captain said he was on site for the second explosion. He said he felt the ground shake.

Arnold worked at Eastman for several years as a paramedic, and he said he knew the sights and sounds of the company, but what he experienced Wednesday was different.

We asked Arnold what the scene looked like. He said, “It was a blast zone. An explosion happened, it was very apparent. There was a lot of damage, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Arnold also said responders actually pulled up News Channel 11 video capturing the moment of the explosion, and said it really helped give them a better understanding of the scene they were responding to.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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