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Fire trucks usually start shooting foam while approaching the fuselage from 80 or 100 feet away. The foam is also used to clear a safe path for evacuees, experts say.
"This is very rare. I've never heard of it before. I'm not aware of any other similar incident in my 35 years in the fire service," said Ken Willette, a division manager for the National Fire Protection Agency, which sets national standards for training airfield firefighters.
Willette said that amid the chaotic scene that included a burning aircraft, hundreds of survivors running for their lives — as well as those who needed to be rescued — the firefighters' other primary objective was to put down a foam blanket to suppress the fire.
"Their training kicks in at a time like that and they focus on what they see on scene," Willette said. "Their mission going into that operation was getting into the aircraft, to save as many lives as possible and avoid hitting any of the people who may have been going away from the scene.
"But for reasons unknown, the coroner has confirmed that this young lady who was in the area of the crash was run over by a fire apparatus. This was a very tragic accident."