Tacoma city officials declined on Wednesday to release video footage of the explosions at Atlas Castings & Technology, saying they planned to notify the company, the state Department of Labor and Industries and the family of the man critically injured in the blasts.
The News Tribune filed a formal request Wednesday seeking the release of the Atlas security video, which was part of the Tacoma Fire Department’s investigation of Saturday’s incident at the Nalley Valley foundry.
Earlier this week, the Fire Department said its investigation was complete. Generally, once done, the report and supporting materials would be open to the public.
Tacoma public records officer Yvonne Yaskus said the video likely would be available by Friday if no one takes legal action to prevent its release.
Fire officials have said the footage shows the driver for IXL Transportation Services beginning to deliver propane from his truck into Atlas’ stationary tanks. Then comes a “catastrophic failure” of either the hose or the connection.
The driver, Charles McDonald, 64, is subsumed in a cloud of propane vapor, which was ignited by a furnace inside the foundry. The towering blast that followed was heard for miles.
McDonald remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, hospital officials said Wednesday. His family has declined media interviews. They could not be reached Wednesday concerning the video.
Atlas owns the video. On Tuesday, Atlas President Duane Britschgi declined to release it to the newspaper. Saying it was within his rights to keep it, he cited the ongoing investigations of the incident as a reason.
Britschgi requested Wednesday that future contact be routed through a spokesman in Texas. The spokesman did not return a call Wednesday evening.
L&I “doesn’t have any concerns about the video being released,” spokeswoman Elaine Fischer said.
Meanwhile Wednesday, the Law Enforcement Support Agency, which oversees local emergency dispatch operations, released audio tape recordings of several 911 calls reporting Saturday’s blasts.
One caller, identified only as Cameron, said he had heard as many as five explosions.
Dispatcher: “Hi, this is 911. Were you calling regarding the explosion when you hung up earlier?”
Cameron: “Yeah, I was.”
Dispatcher: “We have that information already. … And there’re no other issues?”
Cameron: “No, there were just two more explosions and there were three to begin with and there were just two more now.”
Dispatcher: “Two more additional explosions? OK. Did you see or hear anything else?”
Cameron: “No – there’s a big flame over there.”
Dispatcher: “Well, we’ll let the units know.”
Ian Demsky: 253-597-8872
Staff writer Jason Hagey contributed to this report.