Fallen Hero

Reginald Robinson
West Helena Fire Department - May 8, 1997

The West Helena Fire Department was dispatched to the BPS Bartlo Chemical plant at 1:02 pm on May 8, 1997.  They were informed that there was smoke coming from the building and that it contained Azinphos Methyl.  The building exploded at approximately 1:22 pm killing three firefighters and severely injuring one.  A witness described the events as, "The flames were so high, 150 feet, then the smoke turned black, and it was dark from then.  The fumes would burn your nose, it smelled bad, like ammonia, where it would take your breath."

Sixteen firefighter and one civilian were injured in the explosion at BPS Inc., which packaged agricultural pesticides and herbicides, officials said.  The area of the explosion was inaccessible hours after the fire and evacuations were ordered. 

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