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Fire breaks out at hydrogen fuelling station, destroys $1.1 million hydrogen-fuelled bus

21 July 2023

Part of a hydrogen fuelling station was damaged and a hydrogen-fuelled bus was destroyed after a fire broke out in California, US on 18 July. The incident happened at Kern County’s first hydrogen fuelling station which is owned by Golden Empire Transit (GET) in the city of Bakersfield.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

In a statement, GET said that the Bakersfield Fire Department was dispatched at 01:15 local time after reports of a fire on the company’s property. A section of the Golden State Highway was closed as firefighters battled the blaze. A portion of the new hydrogen fuelling station, which is reported to have cost $3 million, and a $1.1 million hydrogen fuel cell bus were engulfed in flames.

“It is too early to speculate what happened and the Bakersfield Fire Department is conducting an investigation,” said Karen King CEO of GET. The hydrogen buses were being fuelled at the time of the fire. One bus was destroyed while only the dispensing portion of the hydrogen fuelling station was damaged. Explosions were heard and seen from the tanks on the bus that had just been filled, but the primary tanks of the actual fuelling station did not ignite due to safety technology, GET said.

Golden Empire Transit is transitioning to Zero Emission Fuel pursuant to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirement that 100 percent of new Public Transportation in California be zero-emission by 2040. For this reason, GET started the transition and has purchased 10 hydrogen buses.

GET said that the incident could have been worse but with the functioning safety mechanisms in place and the swift action of the Bakersfield Fire Department, damage was minimised and no injuries were reported.

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