|astronautix.com||Fire in the Bell Apollo LM ascent engine test facility|
A fire broke out in the Bell Aerosystems Test Facility, Wheatfield, N.Y., at 2:30 a.m. April 20. Early analysis indicated the fire was started by overpressurization of the ascent engine's propellant- conditioning system, which caused the system relief valve to dump propellant into an overflow bucket. The bucket in turn overflowed and propellant spilled onto the floor, coming into contact with a highly oxidized steel grating. Contact was believed to have initiated combustion and subsequently an intense, short-duration fire.
The fire began in the test facility building near the altitude chamber and fuel tanks and spread to the inside of the altitude chamber. Among the effects of the fire on the program were
ASPO Manager George Low received a message from NASA Hq. May 3 expressing concern that the two fires within one week might be symptomatic of inadequate test procedures and personnel training, which could lead to a more serious accident. Headquarters requested results of the investigations and notice of corrective action taken to prevent future incidents. References: 16 .