New Documentary “Behind the Smoke” Tells the Story of St. Augustine Gas Station Fire and Its Impact on Firefighters

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A documentary is set to premiere at the St. Augustine Film Festival, shedding light on the 2011 explosion at a BP gas station located on State Road 16 and Masters Drive. The film, titled “Behind the Smoke,” focuses on the challenges faced by firefighters and the long-term impact of toxic smoke exposure.

Filmmaker Jacob Whitley captures the harrowing day of the gas station fire and the subsequent struggles of the firefighters. The documentary centers around the story of St. Augustine firefighter Michael Riley, who survived the explosion but suffered from illnesses believed to be linked to the incident.

Riley’s wife, Lani, approached Whitley with the idea for the documentary, emphasizing the need to highlight the dangers of toxic smoke and the sacrifices made by firefighters. The film features interviews with firefighters from across the country, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the gas station fire in St. Augustine and its impact on the first responders who battled the blaze.

The documentary serves as a tribute to the resilience of firefighters and the physical and emotional toll of their profession. It is a poignant reminder of the risks they face and the lasting effects of their occupational exposure. “Behind the Smoke” will be showcased at the St. Augustine Film Festival, offering a compelling and thought-provoking insight into the challenges and sacrifices of firefighters.

The film provides a firsthand account of the gas station fire that shook St. Augustine and the courageous individuals who confronted the blaze. The documentary’s debut at the film festival promises to bring attention to the vital but often overlooked experiences of firefighters and the lasting impact of their service on the community.