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Texas brushfire melted plastic culverts

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brush fires in Texas collapsed a road when plastic culverts melted.
Brush fires in Texas collapsed a road when plastic culverts melted.

Last month's devastating brushfires in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas should provide a valuable lesson, the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) said today: don't trust plastic pipes in a brushfire zone.

The brushfires that burned over 25,000 acres last month demonstrated how high-density polyethylene pipe (HDPE) used for drainage under roadways can be dangerous and costly, the association said.

ACPA said one small town, with only about 100 residents, was designed with only two thoroughfares for evacuation: FM 1806 and US 81. But when the brushfires hit, FM 1806 collapsed when three plastic culverts ignited and melted.

Jason Ratliff of FX5 Construction and Excavation was driving his truck along the road when it collapsed, sending his truck into the drainage ditch and causing him injury and damage to his vehicle. Later that afternoon, a fire truck also drove into the ditch and broke an axle.

A volunteer firefighter later came along and used a piece of heavy contruction equipment to haul Ratliff's truck out of the ditch to safety.
The lesson, ACPA said, is that plastic pipes are no substitute for concrete culverts in high fire-risk areas or along evacuation routes for natural disasters.
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