Bucket falls from sky, crashes through Miramar-area business: Hazmat team responds

Base official: Solution in bucket is non-hazardous

SAN DIEGO - Workers at a Sorrento Valley auto-repair shop arrived at work Thursday morning to find that a five-gallon bucket of cleaning solution had fallen off a military aircraft flying out of nearby Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and crashed through the roof of the business, damaging a half-dozen cars.

The non-injury mishap was reported about 11 a.m., roughly 16 hours after it occurred, according to USMC officials and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Military authorities determined that the container of solvent had fallen out of an MV-22 Osprey tiltroter about 7 p.m. Wednesday, shortly after takeoff from MCAS Miramar, Marine Lt. Tyler Balzer said.

Balzer told reporters, "An MB-22 Osprey was departing MCAS-Miramar … as it flew over this place of business, it dropped a five-gallon bucket of cleaning solution. It came through the roof, clipped the rear of the motor home or RV in there and then hit the ground and split."

The bucket plunged onto an unoccupied Marindustry Drive building housing Renegade Performance Mustangs & Motorsports, where it broke open and spewed its contents on about six vehicles.

The container apparently had been tied down aboard the aircraft but somehow came loose and slid out a hatch or other opening, the lieutenant said.

The owners of the damaged business just north of Miramar Road, near Interstate 805, will be able to file a claim with the Marine Corps and be reimbursed for their losses, according to Balzer.

"It appears, as it came down, to have damaged the fiberglass on the back of it, chipped it, put a few holes in it, so it is absolutely up to the business owner to determine then we're going to take care of it. In their words, basically, 'Hey, we understand mistakes happen as long as steps are taken to make sure restitution is taken care of, we understand.' That, I can say, restitution is absolutely going to be taken care of," Balzer said.

Next door, there was a sigh of relief from delivery truck driver Mike Gladden.

"Yeah, it could've just dropped on one of our trucks out here while we were working. So it was close," said Gladden.

A hazardous materials team was called in, but the cleaning solution was water-based and most of it had evaporated and there was no danger lingering.

It might have been a different story had this happened at a different time. SDFRD Battalion Chief Glen Holder said it could have been much worse.  

"No, thank God. The building was unoccupied. The owners had closed shop yesterday at four, went home and when they came in this morning to open up shop; the first person on the bay floor noticed this on the floor, looked up and saw the hole in the ceiling and obviously something occurred," said Holder.

Balzer said, "Right now the number one thing to say is we're sorry for what happened."

There is no damage estimate yet.

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