‘Harmless’ chemical drum screams code red in drone footage from Florida

Residents and businesses in the 4000 block of Louis Avenue in Holiday, Florida, knew things were serious when Pasco County Fire Rescue issued evacuation orders last week. But just “how serious” is something that even first responders didn’t fully understand until they had a thermal drone up in the air to monitor what was initially considered a “small fire?”

The hazmat incident occurred on the afternoon of August 19. Pasco County Fire Rescue’s Engine 12 arrived on the scene and found a 55-gallon barrel of sodium hydrosulfite that was causing a toxic cloud of smoke to blow across the street. While extinguishing a small fire coming from the drum, firefighters created a 500-feet safety zone and evacuated nearby homes and businesses.

In powder form, sodium hydrosulfite is hazardous to handle. But mix the powder with water, and the chemical becomes even more volatile. With this in mind, when firefighters from Pasco County Fire Rescue performed further…