A second disastrous fire in a pure oxygen atmosphere killed one airman and left a second near death in an accident at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas on Tuesday (Jan 31).
MS Building housing simulated
LS Fire truck outside simulator building
CU Fire truck pan to building
CU Sign - pan to bldg.
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Background: A second disastrous fire in a pure oxygen atmosphere killed one airman and left a second near death in an accident at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas on Tuesday (Jan 31). The accident resembled the one which claimed the lives of three Apollo astronauts last week.
The accident occurred in a space cabin simulator, a cylindrical pressure chamber used to conduct experiments with various forms of atmospheres. It is capable of containing a pure oxygen, an oxygen-helium or an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere.
Newsmen were not permitted near the scene of the accident.
A spokesman for the Air Force Base said that two airmen were in the chamber which contained a 100 per cent oxygen atmosphere. They were monitoring and tendering 12 rabbits which were being studied in the chamber to test the effect on their blood of prolonged exposure to pure oxygen. A flash fire swept the chamber. Both men were removed and taken to hospital. One died upon reaching the hospital, the second--with burns covering 95 per cent of his body--was not expected to live.
The chamber is about 20 feet long and some six feet in interior diameter. The oxygen within it was pressurized to about five pounds per square inch. A similar accident in the same chamber in 1962 hospitalized two man.
The oxygen itself is not explosive, but should a fire start, it feeds the flames and produces a blaze of extreme intensity.
Ten of the twelve rabbits in the chamber were charred.