Kennel dogs OK after nearby explosion on 126
Seventy-one dogs stranded at the Canine Adoption Rescue League (CARL) center in Santa Paula after a vacuum truck explosion rocked a nearby waste water facility on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 18, were found in good condition the next day. Safety officials had ordered a mandatory evacuation after the explosion sent dozens of people to area hospitals.
CARL President Sharon Clark says that she and volunteers were not being allowed onto the premises to evacuate the dogs on site on Tuesday evening after the kennel’s caretaker was taken to the hospital after developing respiratory problems.
A mandatory evacuation was issued for all residents within a one-mile radius of 815 Mission Rock Road, the address of the Santa Clara Waste Water facility, after a type of organic peroxide spilled, following an explosion. CARL is located at 901 Mission Rock Road. The highly flammable chemicals caused several explosions throughout the day and a snow-like cloud of highly volatile chemicals falling over the area.
“They’re saying its too dangerous for humans to go in there; we’re saying it’s too dangerous for the dogs,” said Clark.
Late Tuesday afternoon, two veterinarians were allowed into the facility to check on the well being of the dogs. After checking on the animals’ state, CARL released a statement via Facebook saying that “all the dogs are good,” and requested donations for care items such as blankets and dog food.
One dog in particular by the name of Brandi was evacuated from the premises showing signs of irritation around the eyes, but checked out fine by a veterinarian.
The explosion sent 44 people to area hospitals for treatment after developing respiratory problems or as a result of the explosion. All but one had been released by Tuesday afternoon. First responders on the scene reported stepping in the chemical in rubber boots only to have the boots combust. The 126 freeway was closed for much of the day and reopened Tuesday afternoon in both directions.
As of Wednesday morning, the exact cause of the explosion and the type of chemical that was spilled is still unknown but an official with environmental health said it may have been something thrown in a Porta Potty that caused a thermogenic reaction which had been pumped into the vacuum truck.
Tension over mentally ill office reveal safety issues
The search for an alternative location is underway for the CONREP facility that had relocated to Santa Clara Street in downtown Ventura, according to Jeffrey Lambert, the city’s community development director. While attorneys for the operator MHM Services Inc., which provides services for patients who have been declared criminally insane, have filed an appeal after the denial of a business permit that was issued in error, an incident with a person associated with CONREP, allegedly a patient, and a neighbor, revealed safety issues and caused tensions to rise.
The forensic conditional release program, or CONREP, moved from the Ventura County Behavioral Health center on Telegraph Road on Oct. 31 and into the new location at 40 W. Santa Clara St. with little notice to area residents at the beginning of November.
Lambert sent a strongly worded letter to the operators last week saying that the facility could not continue operations in the area because such services were not allowed under the Downtown Specific Plan, and over the weekend the landlord placed an eviction notice on the front door.
“I understand that you received a business license and a zoning clearance from the City,” Lambert said in a letter to MHM Services Inc. “However, I have determined that the zoning clearance was issued in error and therefore, your business license is invalid.”
CONREP treats patients sent from state mental hospitals by court order for treatment. According to the Department of State Hospitals, 85 percent of the patients have committed violent felonies, which could include sexual assault and homicide.
While a KEYT reporter was interviewing local resident Brian Hassenflug on Monday, Nov. 17, a person associated with the CONREP facility approached the reporter and began filming and photographing, and according to a witness nearby, became confrontational. Hassenflug then pushed the man to the ground and a scuffle ensued. Part of t he incident was captured on the reporter’s camera.
After the incident, members of the community stressed neighbors to keep away from the facility until the licensing issue is resolved.
Lambert says that MHM has filed an appeal, but he hopes the facility will relocate before the process begins, which could take weeks.
“We are hopeful that based on the bad press and the unfortunate incident that they realize that this is a bad idea,” said Lambert.