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.
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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.