Scenes from an explosion: “Nothing to worry about — it’s just sewer water.”

After a vacuum truck blew up in the yard of Santa Paula Waste Water last November, the Santa Paula Fire Department arrived at shortly before 4:00 a.m. According to the interview with Captain Milo Bustillos, they were told “You have nothing to worry about it is just treated sewer water.”

As Bustillos and two other firemen looked around the plant, they were told “There is nothing toxic here, there is no chemicals, we are fine.” 

Bustillos did not at first notice the exploded vacuum truck in the darkness. When he saw that its back had been blown off, and realized they were standing in the soup of chemicals blasted throughout the yard, he became alarmed.

“We are in it now?” he asked. And when he was reassured again, he said “Don’t fucking lie to me, it’s not sewer water.” 

As Bustillos taped off the area, his boots caught fire. According to the interview detailed in the search warrant request:

“Bustillos called the Incident Commander and reported what happened. He tried to move the Santa Paula Fire Department truck. When the truck moved a short distance, a massive fireball erupted and engulfed the fire engine. It burned for approximately 10 seconds.”

Bustillos and the other firemen were evacuated. He felt sick and had difficulty breathing. Since then he has been taken off duty with serious lung and sinus cavity damage from the fumes. He said the doctors do not know how to treat him because they do not know what he was exposed to. He coughs often and the coughing does not provide relief. He is worried about his future health problems. He said:

“If they just would have been truthful when we got on the scene none of this would have happened.” 



Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: