Fire department members were directing traffic, there were rescue squad vehicles at Brinegar's, and what looked like organized chaos at the old market. It was all designed to simulate a disaster of unknown magnitude.
Tim Miller with Blue Ridge Emergency Preparedness Group in Caldwell, an organization that organizes such response scenarios, said this particular event involved spilled acid and a lightning strike on the building that not too long ago housed Isabel's restaurant. The scenario was that a yard sale was taking place, a truck hauling a trailer with those barrels of a type of acid used in food products pulled off to see what was going on, and the lightning struck the building, injuring about 11 on scene and startling the truck driver so he hit his gas pedal too quickly causing the barrels to burst out of the trailer.
Response came from several area fire departments and rescue agencies. A haz-mat team checked out the barrels, bystanders were decontaminated, and the victims were treated and transported to medical facilities.
As part of the situation, a tour bus with about 24 travelers was left damaged by the lightning strike and the travelers needed shelter. The Department of Social Services set up a temporary shelter at Mountain View Elementary School with cots, medical help and food.
Volunteers included Ashe County High School students.
More information is expected from the Ashe County Office of Emergency Management, organizing and serving as incident command for the drill.