World

Sea of foam cascades from San Jose airport hangar, engulfs vehicles

A bobbing sea of white foam several feet deep in spots spewed out of a large hangar at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California on Friday, covering cars and blocking businesses as it cascaded onto a nearby street.

Fire retardant chemical discharged accidentally from hangar's fire suppression system

Fire retardant foam is seen covering a city street and almost covering a car. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

A bobbing sea of white foam several feet deep in spots spewed out of a large hangar at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California on Friday, covering cars and blocking businesses as it cascaded onto a nearby street.

The foam was a chemical used as a fire retardant and was coming from the hangar's fire suppression system, San Jose fire Capt. Mitch Matlow told the Mercury News. Matlow said the retardant discharged accidentally and began spilling out in the morning.

By the afternoon, the pulsating flow had surrounded two tanker trucks and filled a block-long stretch of the street.

Crews were asking people to stay out of the foam, but a man on a bicycle pedalled through the fluffy mass, emerging covered in foam to laughing onlookers. The rider, Blake Harrington, said he could not see through it even when he stood up on his bike.

"Someone had to do it," Harrington told San Francisco Bay area station KTVU-TV, saying the foam felt and smelled like soap.

A bobbing sea of white foam several feet deep in spots spewed out of a large hangar at the airport, covering cars and blocking businesses as it cascaded onto a nearby street. (KTVU-TV/Associated Press)
Marco Guerra checks out his car after driving it through chemical foam. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News/Associated Press)
A TV cameraman films fire retardant foam blowing in the wind near the San Jose airport in Santa Clara, Calif. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)