Esopus fire: Fuel and fireworks, but only minor injuries

Video of yesterday's fire posted by YouTube user Aylazon.

The inferno in the town of Esopus yesterday was nightmarish -- the flames were so hot that they melted a natural gas pipeline buried underground, according to the Daily Freeman. (They also destroyed a warehouse and set off fireworks inside, causing explosions to echo in the nearby neighborhoods. The Times Herald-Record reports that, despite the noise, the 3,000 gallons of gas in the fuel truck that was involved in the blaze didn't explode -- they just burned.)

But nobody died, and the only injuries -- to the two drivers of the dump truck and fuel truck that collided and started the conflagration -- were non-life-threatening burns. (Both drivers have already been released from St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie, the Freeman says.)  

It took two hours to subdue the flames, and Rte. 9W was still closed last night.

The fire started when the dump truck tried to make a U-turn, the Freeman reports:

THE ULSTER County Sheriff’s Office said a dump truck owned by the J.W. Smith Co. of Marlboro and driven by Jeffrey W. Kays, 55, of Milton, was northbound on Route 9W, towing a paver and Bobcat to a job site in Ulster Park. The Sheriff’s Office said Kays passed his turnoff, so he tried to make a U-turn from the road’s right shoulder. A northbound Bottini Fuel truck, driven by Kevin M. Jiave, 42, of Hyde Park, was unable to avoid the turning dump truck and struck its driver’s side. The impact caused the Bottini truck, which was carrying about 3,000 gallons of fuel oil, to rupture and burst into flames, said Ulster County Undersheriff Frank Faluotico. He said the flames spread to the dump truck and then to the one-story warehouse. Both trucks and the building were destroyed.

Videos of the fire are beginning to crop up online. Here's one, from a user called BBM5269, from a camera that looks like it was mounted on a fire truck as it was parked at the scene, with a soundtrack of the radio back-and-forth of firemen battling the flames.

You can watch as the fire gets bigger and darker in the distance. Pretty scary. 

The Times Herald-Record put together a photo-and-video collage of the fire, which they posted on YouTube yesterday

The Daily Freeman interviewed Esopus Fire Chief Mike Cafaldo and Ulster County sheriff's Sgt. C.J. Polacco at the scene: