On August 7, 2003 an explosion and fire occurred at United Technologies Corporation (UTC) in San Jose. UTC manufactures and repairs solid-fuel rocket motors. The explosion occurred at approximately 5:45 PM during a rocket propellant mixing operation on the UTC campus. The rocket propellant was a mixture of ammonium perchlorate, aluminum powder, and polymer resin (containing methylene chloride and acetone). The explosion destroyed one building and ignited a brush fire that burned approximately 37 acres. Smoke from the explosion and fire was visible throughout the South San Jose/Morgan Hill area. The winds were from the west, blowing the smoke over the surrounding foothills away from any populated areas. The brush fire was under control by 8:00 PM.
District staff was on the scene to investigate the explosion and fire at approximately 1900 hours. No air samples were taken.
The District received no complaints regarding the smoke from the explosion and fire. The UTC fire department, San Jose Fire Department, and the California Department of Forestry (CDF) responded to the fire.
There were no major injuries reported. The San Jose Fire Department did not order any shelter-in-place nor order any evacuations.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation. The District's investigation of this incident is ongoing.