Chemistry

Chapter 98
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Chapter 98

    Wildfire(7)

    06:26 AM Turning Point

    The kitchen felt empty, as someones absence lingered. Jeong-chan, yawning, sat next to the dining table.

    Mom, brother didnt come home yesterday?

    Yeah.

    Hes been staying out a lot these days. π“―π˜³π˜¦π‘’π“Œπ˜¦π˜£π“ƒβ„΄π˜·π˜¦π˜­.π“¬π˜°π‘š

    Jeong-chan, who tasted the soup Hong Ji-sook had ladled for him, glanced at the TV in the living room, where breaking news about the wildfire was in full swing.

    It seems like its still chaotic over there.

    -The massive wildfire that had burned over 100 hectares of forest and encroached on nearby villages in Goseong seemed to show no signs of subsiding. However, a dramatic turning point occurred last night when KG Chemicals flame retardant was deployed.

    KG Chemical? Thats where brother works.

    Jeong-chans eyes widened at the tremendous explosion scene displayed on the screen.

    Wow, did you see that, Mom?

    Its been on all morning.

    -Lets get more information by calling our on-site reporter, Lee Byung-ho.

    -Yes, this is Reporter Lee Byung-ho! I am currently standing in front of the temporary supply depot. Trucks carrying KG Chemicals special flame retardant have been shuttling back and forth here all night.

    The camera panned towards an open space with stacked plastic boxes. A person moving through them briefly appeared and disappeared.

    The person wearing that safety helmet looked a lot like him.

    At Jeong-chans words, Hong Ji-sook turned her head. However, the screen quickly transitioned to a 3D animation explaining the principles of the special flame retardant.

    He must have looked similar.

    A common face, just a coincidence between two similar-looking people?

    Common? Mom, your standards for appearance are too high.

    -This flame retardant added a material capable of exerting strong physical force on the existing cooling effect. According to officials, a researcher from KG Chemicals Materials Science Center used unique core technology to produce

    As the complicated explanation continued, the attention of the two returned from the TV to the dining table.

    Jeong-chan, who had been chewing and swallowing for a while, looked up.

    By the way, why didnt brother come home? Another overtime? Business trip?

    Hong Ji-sook poured water into a cup and spoke.

    He said hes meeting Soo-chan. Tae-yeong and Jeong-heon too.

    Those guys too? Theyre planning to drink without me. It must be nice for those who have Saturdays off.

    Dont get influenced by their atmosphere; focus on your studies.

    Got it.

    Jeong-chans gaze lingered on the TV where the news was ending.

    -The wildfire continues to spread due to the prolonged dry weather. Will today be the day to control the flames? Residents in the region are anxious.

    Beyond the screen focusing on the reporter, a young man stretching appeared.

    Jeong-chan, sipping water, confirmed the young mans face and muttered.

    Hmm, why is he there?

    The morning sun was gradually illuminating the surroundings. The night had been heated by the flames that blossomed from Mt. Maebong, and the sky still carried a dark red tint.

    Ah, my back.

    Jeong-woo sealed the drum container, closed the lid, and stepped back. The special flame retardant, crafted tirelessly for a staggering five hours, amounted to a total of nine containers. With the chemicals running out, further production was no longer possible.

    Mr. Jeong-woo, the truck has arrived.

    In response to Deputy Gongs voice, Jeong-woo nodded and sat on an empty box. He silently watched the last drum container being handed over to the hands of the personnel from the Korea Forest Service.

    Im glad it worked.

    Although he hadnt rested a moment throughout the nights work, Jeong-woos eyes were still clear and sharp.

    Perhaps influenced by the ample intake of caffeine after a long time, Jeong-woo felt a slight sense of anxiety.

    Still, if insomnia was the price of trying to fix this situation, it was a price worth paying.

    Chiik.

    -Jeong-woo, come to the situation room.

    A voice came through the walkie-talkie attached to his hip. Even a brief rest seemed elusive as the wildfire was still in progress.

    Deputy Gong, its a call for me.

    Thank you for your hard work. Ill take care of the cleanup.

    Let me know as soon as the second batch arrives.

    On the way to the command center, Jeong-woo observed the emergency response of the Central Fire Stations Rescue Team 1, rushing to the scene.

    As Kim Jae-ho, who had ordered the departure while riding on the fire truck, passed by Jeong-woo, he briefly lowered his head in acknowledgment.

    They probably didnt get much rest either.

    Trapped by the flames, suffocating in the smoke, crushed by rolling logs and rocks. Many injured had been brought to the emergency medical tent here.

    When Jeong-woo entered the situation room, a meeting was already in progress.

    All the team leaders, as the fire line stabilizes, start clearing the debris in areas where there is a concern for human casualties

    Miles turned his head to Jeong-woo during the radio instructions and gestured with a short nod.

    If the fire spreads around the transmission tower, report it immediately to the situation room. When the dew that formed in the early morning dries up, the fire will intensify.

    Jeong-woo stood in his place, examining the situation board.

    Incorporating information provided by Professor Son Dong-joo, the topography map included elements related to forest resources.

    The area where the intense fire raged saw a significant reduction in numbers since the moment the special flame retardant was deployed. However, the current issue was the widespread of the fire.

    Attempting to suppress the flames spreading across 200 hectares of forest with 5,000 personnel was an impossible task.

    Areas where the fire was not expected to spread significantly were boldly postponed to a lower priority, and they started the suppression process in the dangerous areas obtained from Professor Sons information.

    After a night of crisis, this was the firefighting policy set in the meeting.

    Mr. Han Jeong-woo.

    As Miless radio instructions dragged on, a military official approached Jeong-woo. He was introduced briefly yesterday as Lieutenant Colonel Hwang Soo-seung, the information officer of the 12th Division.

    Can we have a brief conversation?

    Jeong-woo nodded, and Colonel Hwang asked in a low voice.

    Is KG Chemical involved in defense-related matters?

    What? No.

    That bomb you detonated last night. The Division Commander was very impressed, and he asked if you have any intention to enter into a defense cooperation agreement with the Army Materiel Command.

    Bomb? It wasnt anything like that.

    It had the power comparable to a 150mm towed howitzer. Anyway, if you have thoughts on this, he wants you to connect with the person in charge at the Materiel Command. Please contribute your strength as a Korean citizen for national defense.

    After Colonel Hwang returned to his place, Jeong-woo shook his head slightly, appearing somewhat bewildered.

    Making a bomb was still chemistry. However, that was a problem to consider when a war broke out.

    On the other side, Oh Seon-yong and the Provincial Governor were in conversation through a video call.

    As of now, there are 78 injured. Two severely burned patients have been transported to Seoul AN Hospital by helicopter.

    -They should be safe. Cant you keep applying that flame retardant that worked so well last night? The media was making a big deal out of it.

    Well, about that

    Oh Seon-yong gestured to Jeong-woo, indicating for him to answer. Jeong-woo walked to the spot with the burn camera and looked at the Governor on the screen.

    We ran out of materials. Additional materials are currently being produced at the factory and are expected to arrive by evening.

    -Ah, I see.

    And this combination chemical has a strong explosive reaction, so it cant be used near people. When performing widespread firefighting operations like now, it needs to be carefully deployed. We cant afford anyone else getting hurt.

    The governor looked at Jeong-woo, who answered calmly.

    -Is there anything else you need? Ill take responsibility and support everything Mr. Han does.

    Ill let you know if anything comes up.

    -Dont hesitate to ask for anything.

    At the governors unusual interest and remark, Shin Jong-seok, who was receiving a report on the status of the injured, became surprised and raised his thumb towards Jeong-woo. Jeong-woo walked over with a cool expression and stood next to Miles.

    bear with it a bir more.

    Chiik.

    -Understood.

    -Captain Ma, youve worked hard.

    After completing all the orders, Captain Miles turned his head to Jeong-woo.

    Jeong-woo.

    Yes.

    Do you want to take the helicopter one more time?

    Jung-woo hesitated.

    Let me buy that fire-sniffing ability. How much?

    Interview : Miles

    Jeong-woo? Three words: heavenly, descended, firefighter. And theres more. The next chief of Central Fire Department, the Command Team Leader No, Chief Superintendent.

    09:05 AM War of embers

    Drrrr!

    The sound of helicopter propellers was familiar after experiencing it once. However, this time, sitting right next to the pilot made the sensation entirely new.

    As Jeong-woo boarded, the pilot extended noise-canceling headsets towards him.

    -You can adjust the wireless channel by turning this part. Well depart once you fasten your seatbelt.

    Shortly after, the reconnaissance helicopter ascended into the sky.

    The daytime world visible through the cockpit was quite different from the night when no landscapes were visible.

    Beyond the spread-out ridges like a fan, the deep blue East Sea came into view, dazzling Jeong-woo for a moment.

    Wow.

    Eventually, the helicopter changed direction.

    Jeong-woo unconsciously swallowed a groan.

    The mountains and fields engulfed in flames. The thick smoke rising from various places vividly revealed the extent of this disaster.

    Jeong-woo, no time to enjoy the scenery. Every minute counts.

    Jeong-woo, who had never been particularly interested in public-spirited activities, felt a surge of energy throughout his body when he realized that five thousand people were still battling within the wildfire.

    Jeong-woo grasped the mini topographic map handed to him by Miles.

    Having adjusted the wireless channel, Jeong-woo closed and opened his eyes firmly.

    The abstract world, filled with smoke, transformed into a silent realm detected solely by temperature.

    He addressed the officials waiting in the situation room.

    -Lets start cleaning up the embers.

    Walking through the smoldering embers with a fire rake, Park Cheon-gu, the manager of the recreation forest, noticed a helicopter hovering above. He brought the walkie-talkie closer to his ear as it buzzed.

    Chiik.

    -Team 1. Theres a highly flammable area with a lot of combustible materials at 70 meters in the 12 oclock direction. Prioritize extinguishing this area first. A fire head is heading your way.

    Got it. Squads 1, 2, 3! Follow me!

    Five firefighting team members clung to a 500-meter hose pulled from the roadside.

    Swoooosh!

    A robust stream of water spread out in front of them.

    Noh Il-jeong, the chief of the fire department in Gunpo City, in charge of the 7th firefighting squad, was sweating profusely, facing a blaze where a direct firefighting solution seemed elusive.

    The jet of water ceased.

    Already done? Replace the pump!

    Replacing!

    As the team members lined up and conveyed commands toward the road, a click from the walkie-talkie sounded.

    -Chief Noh, theres an area 150 meters north with a spring. If we use it as a water source, it will save a lot of distance.

    Oh, really? Holy water! Jin-cheol! Get the power pump!

    A helicopter passed over their heads.

    Walking through the charred area, the members of the 13th firefighting squad, lined up in a row, each person with a debris detector who systematically scanned the sensors.

    A beep sounded, and one person stopped.

    Smoke!

    The surrounding team members began cleaning up using rakes and backpack pumps.

    Lee Cheong-jun, the chief of the firefighting team from Yangyang County, sighed. Having participated in firefighting operations during the Yangyang Mountain Fire in 2005 as a field public official, he was well aware that searching a 10-hectare forest at this slow pace would take at least two days.

    In this situation, the rate at which the remaining embers could expand was faster than the speed of the search.

    Thud, thud, thud!

    A small helicopter appeared in the sky above.

    Click.

    -13th firefighting squad. Do you hear me?

    Yes, Im the chief of the firefighting squad.

    -As were scanning the ground with heat detection equipment, Ill guide you through the key points. Do you have a map? Please check the coordinates.

    Lee Cheong-jun took out the topographic map.

    -The B-13 area currently under search has wind blowing towards the firefighting line. There isnt much flammable material left, so focus on the natural leaf litter zone between B-12 and 11. Also, be cautious in the B-10 area where we applied special agents from helicopters in the early morning, focusing more on the cleanup of fallen dead trees than embers

    Lee Cheong-juns face brightened at the very efficient search instructions.

    Interview: Kim Jae-ho

    I have never seen anyone who can see through the fire as clearly as he does. If he participates in the Firefighting Olympics, winning the overall championship is not impossible. We were evenly matched in the physical fitness events, but we lost to other countries in firefighting.

    05:30 PM Overcoming the Crisis

    The forest monitoring officer at the wildfire surveillance outpost was patiently observing the reduced smoke and flames, feeling somewhat relieved compared to the morning.

    His duty involved using a compass-like detector that rotated 360 degrees to check the surroundings, monitoring the shapes and movements of smoke that periodically entered his field of vision. When the timer rang, he turned his attention first to Mt. Maebong. Then, he radioed the information officer at the Forest Service.

    The extent of the wildfire evolution by the next day after the initial response is something Ive never seen before.

    Click.

    -Agreed.

    The decision of the on-site command responsible for deploying a significant number of veteran pilots to operate helicopters and digging the firebreak aggressively was considered insane when first heard yesterday. However, the results were now unfolding before their eyes.

    Click.

    -Bringing in that expert from KG Chemicals made the most significant impact. Hes been flying around in a helicopter all day.

    Agreed.

    As the monitoring officer turned the detector towards the other side of Mt. Maebong, he paused.

    Huh?

    If white smoke spreads widely on the ground, it means grass is on fire. If the smoke is dark or blue and rises narrowly, it indicates that a fire has caught on sturdy trees. And if both are overlapping

    Wi-wildfire detection! Towards Masan! 10 km east of Mt. Maebong!

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