Brush Fires Erupt at Kennedy Space Center during Endeavour’s Last Countdown

by Ken Kremer on April 28, 2011

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Brush fires send billowing smoke skywards above the Countdown Clock
at the Kennedy Space Center on April 27, just 2 days before the last launch of Shuttle Endeavour. Credit: Ken Kremer

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – A large brush fire suddenly broke out this today (April 27) less than 1 mile fom the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Press Site in the midst of the countdown to Space Shuttle Endeavour’s last launch, set for this Friday, April 29.

Huge plumes of billowing smoke were sent skyward over the spaceport starting around 1 p.m. from the fires and were spread out over more than 100 acres. The fires erupted at some distance behind the NASA Tweeters tent erected at the press site and were located just 3 miles from the shuttle launch pad. The cause of the fires is unknown but occurred after a long spell of dry weather at KSC.

Brush fire view from the countdown clock at press site at the Kennedy Space Center on April 27. Helicopters dumped water from buckets to bring the fire under control. Credit: Ken Kremer

Helicopters and NASA Firefighters were called in to put out the fires. Fire trucks careened past the countdown clock towards the nearby fire. The helicopters flew back and forth all afternoon dumping buckets of seawater onto the wildfires trying to bring it under control.

“The shuttle launch pad was never in any danger due to the Turn basin in between and it hasn’t impacted any launch operations,” KSC spokesman Allard Beutel told Universe Today.

The Universe Today team of Alan Walters and Ken Kremer witnessed the spectacular and potentially frightening scene first hand and onsite.

It looked like Armageddon all afternoon long and was finally contained tonight. Nothing like this ever occurred so close to a launch and its not clear if the fire would have caused a scrub on launch day. Check out our up close photo album.

NASA Fire truck at the Countdown clock during brushfires at KSC. Credit: Ken Kremer

NASA Fire brigade responds to KSC brush fire. Credit: Ken Kremer

Firefighters at KSC brush fire. Credit: Ken Kremer

A member of the KSC fire crew assesses the fire situation. Credit: Alan Walters.

A helicopter flies through the smoke and haze at KSC on April 27 during the brushfire. Credit: Alan Walters.

Photographers set up in attempt to photograph Endeavour on the launchpad, but smoke hinders their view. Credit: Alan Walters.

Fire at Kennedy Space Center, April 27, 2011. Credit: Alan Walters.

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

RapidEye April 28, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Craaaaaap!!!
Driving down there today to watch the launch from the Visitor’s center – hope this works itself out…..

Ken Kremer April 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Expect GIANT crowds and get there super early. bring food and water for a LONGGGGGG …. post launch wait

its looking good so far – but weather dependent as always.

be sure to check UT. am publishing more my pad photos later today !

RapidEye April 28, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Thanks Ken.
A coworker went to the STS-133 launch at the Visitor Center and gave me the full on skinny.
I’ll have a full tank of gas and a cooler full of drinks and food in the car before I get there tomorrow morning.
I’ll be putting stuff up on Twitter as well as checking back here for updates =-)

postman1 April 28, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Having made that trip several times in the 70′s and 80′s, several times for nothing, launch scrubbed, I will anxiously await your posts right here. Thanks in advance!

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