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Prefecture firefighters recall horrors battling plane blaze

Date Posted: 2007-08-23

Five firefighters assigned to the Prefecture Fire Brigade stationed at Naha International Airport entered the burning China Airlines 737 Monday morning after being told there could be passengers trapped inside.
“Oh my God, it was too hot inside the cabin,” said one fireman. “I couldn’t see which was the aisle side of the plane and where the seats were.” As colleagues sent streams of fire-dousing foam on the airplane, the five began rescue operations following their own established rules. They entered from the rear of the aircraft, and were stunned by the horrific scene. “Wow! What wreckage,” one explained. “There was no more airplane shape at all.
Temperatures inside the burning plane were 300 Centigrade, and firemen reported feeling electrical static as well. They were being protected by water as they went into the hulk. “We were afraid the plane might explode again,” said one. “We had to move debris because everything was together: seats, toilets, everything, as we looked for crew members.” The five said they looked carefully, staying inside the wreckage ten minutes their first entry. The rescue crews made four trips inside the twisted and melted wreckage searching for crew before finally getting the good news all were safe.
“What happy news,” smiled another fireman.
Once the heart-pounding stress and adrenaline faded, the rescue firemen reflected on the experience. “We know how to act at a plane accident,” said one, “but we don’t know how to learn to get information. We need to get real, true information and how to get a clear view of the situation.” Another said “we have to learn more detail about the documents of the airplanes, and the situation.”
The firemen were pleased there were no crew members left inside the fiery cabin, but said they didn’t know that when they went in. “We were told yes, there are some left inside,” a fireman noted.

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