home fire home

photo: Jad Davenport, 1998

Denver lies downwind of Rocky Flats

If the fire had burned through the roof, thousands of pounds of deadly plutonium in the form of powdery ash would have exposed hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children living nearby to toxic radiation. Just how close that came to happening was admitted a year after the fire by a top Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) official, Air Force General Edward Giller. "If the fire had been a little bigger it is questionable whether it could have been contained," Giller testified to Congress. He acknowledged that if the fire hadn't been contained "hundreds of square miles could be involved in radiation exposure and involve cleanup at an astronomical cost as well as creating a very intense reaction by the general public exposed to this."   photo: Rocky Flats/DOE, 1969

Workers wore anti-contamination suits during
fire cleanup
photo: Rocky Flats/DOE, 1969

Plutonium-contaminated material
being hauled from the building
  While casualties were narrowly averted, the fire delayed nuclear bomb production and cost taxpayers dearly. The fire's total $70.7 million price tag broke all previous records for U.S. industrial accidents.  

Click the alarm box to see a video
about the Building 776-777 fire
©2005 Len Ackland. All rights reserved.