NewsLocal News


Explosion, fire at Vandenberg Space Force Base sparks air quality concerns

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 22:24:35-04

Overnight, the test launch of a Minotaur II+ rocket at Vandenberg Space Force Base ended in an explosion that sparked a fire on the north side of the base.

Some Vandenberg Village residents say the air smelled of diesel and smoke, prompting some to mask up inside their own homes.

Santa Barbara County’s Air Pollution Control District reported that between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday morning, the district's Lompoc air quality station reported elevated risks for children, seniors, and people with pre-existing lung conditions.

“We heard a big boom, and I guess that was the missile,” said Bruce Myers, Vandenberg Village resident.

“We were anticipating the launch, so we were kind of finding information about it online and I saw that there was an explosion,” said Allison Marsh, Vandenberg Village resident.

Vandenberg Space Force Base officials say their planned test launch of a Minotaur II+ rocket ended in failure late Wednesday night, when the rocket exploded.

“I had to get up and take the Benadryl,” Myers told KSBY. “My hands started itching, eyes watering and clearing out of the nose.”

Santa Barbara County’s Air Pollution Control District says there are no longer any air quality concerns following the fire.

“Right now, the air quality is good in the Lompoc area,” confirmed Liz Bantilan, Santa Barbara County APCD Public Information Officer.

She says especially during fire season, locals should stay up to date on air quality reports in their neighborhood and consider taking additional measures inside their homes.

“You have a clean air environment in your home with windows and doors shut and, ideally, some kind of air purification device,” Bantilan advised.

The failed launch at Vandenberg comes just a day after the 20-acre Watt Fire broke out there Tuesday afternoon.

“I had actually gone out and called 911 for that fire because we live in the Village, and it seems like the smoke came on really fast when I was outside,” Marsh said.

The county’s Air Pollution Control District reported no elevated risks because of that fire.

The Vandenberg Fire Department was on scene to put out Wednesday night’s fire at 1 a.m. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.