That's no snow: Sea of foam cascades from airport hangar
Posted: November 19, 2016 - 6:07am

Marco Guerra checks out his car after driving it through chemical foam used as a fire retardant that spilled out from a hangar at San Jose International Airport in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. A bobbing sea of white foam several feet deep in spots spewed out of a large hangar at the airport, covering cars and blocking businesses as it cascaded onto a nearby street. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group via AP)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Much of the foam that spewed out of a Northern California airport hangar and flooded a city street appears to be gone.

Television news footage late Friday afternoon showed little of the foam from Mineta San Jose International Airport that was several feet deep in spots and had taken up a city block earlier in the day.

The bobbing sea of white foam covered cars and blocked businesses as it cascaded onto a nearby street.

The foam was a chemical used as a fire retardant and was coming from the hangar's fire prevention system, San Jose fire Capt. Mitch Matlow told The Mercury News (http://bayareane.ws/2g51sig ). Matlow said the retardant discharged accidentally and began spilling out in the morning. All of the foam is released when the fire system goes off.

"The purpose is to prevent a flammable liquid fire inside the hangar from spreading ...," he said. "If there had been a fire, this system would've worked very well."

By the afternoon, the pulsating flow had surrounded two tanker trucks, reached to the bottom of a stop sign and filled a block-long stretch of the street. But much of it was gone several hours later as crews arrived at the scene to clean up.

They were trying to keep the foam in the storm drain, Matlow said. They blocked the drains and tried to break up the bubbles and vacuum the mess.

Crews were asking people to stay out of the foam, but a man on a bicycle pedaled through the fluffy mass, emerging covered in foam to laughing onlookers. The rider, Blake Harrington, said he could not see through it even when he stood up on his bike.

"Someone had to do it," Harrington told San Francisco Bay Area station KTVU-TV, saying the foam felt and smelled like soap.

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