Residents in Windsor, California, about an hour-and-a-half up 101 from San Francisco, got a unpleasant surprise from the air on Thursday: about 100 gallons of pink fire retardant, accidentally dropped from an air tanker onto their neighborhood.
Cars were covered in the stuff, streets were covered in the stuff, sidewalks were covered in the stuff. It was a pink mess.
Officials said that the fire retardant came from a plane operated by the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was returning from a blaze in nearby Penngrove when it accidentally unleashed some of its load. “I came outside [and] everything was pink,” one resident, Alex Cruz told NBC Bay Area. “I’ve never seen this before.”
Local fire crews soon came to clean up. The pink substance, which is sold under the brand name Phos-Chek, is 85 percent water, but contains a number of substances that can interact badly with car paint if allowed to linger. Officials were also wary of the chemical getting into local water supplies, so fire crews sealed storm drains before pumping what they could into trucks. The substance is not considered toxic to wildlife.
According to NBC Bay Area, the final tally of what was hit includes 12 cars, nine houses, and a camper, though it might’ve been worse; the plane was carrying around 900 more gallons.
“Looks like they stopped,” Cruz told the station, “probably noticed they did something wrong.”