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UPDATED: 3 firefighters, 1 person transported to hospital after chemical exposure

Post by Cole Cosgrove on May 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
May 22, 2010 5:33 pm

Members of the McChord Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team work Saturday in Lakewood. (Photo by Cole Cosgrove)
A mixture of common cleaning chemicals is being blamed for sending three Lakewood firefighters and a cleaning person to a hospital Saturday afternoon.

The firefighters were evaluated and released. The condition of the fourth person wasn’t available Saturday.

Lakewood firefighters responded to a smoke alarm about noon at the Lakewood Professional Center, a two-story office building at 7502 Lakewood Drive W.

“They went inside, saw a white cloud, assumed it was smoke, and quickly realized it wasn’t,” Hallie McCurdy, assistant fire marshal, said Saturday afternoon at the scene.

She said firefighters felt nauseated and dizzy, so they left the building. Crews from the Pierce County Hazardous Incident Team and the McChord Fire Department Hazardous Materials Response Team responded, entered the building and packaged the materials. The chemicals will be sent to the Department of Ecology for proper disposal, McCurdy said.

Lt. Col. Leslee Bechtel is commander of the Washington National Guard 10th Civil Support Team, which is trained to respond statewide to terrorist attacks and other chemical, biological or nuclear incidents. She happened to be shopping at Lakewood Town Center when she was notified of the incident, so she drove over to the scene and worked with crews to help identify the chemicals.

“It shows how a lot of agencies can work together,” Bechtel said.

The building houses RailWorks and Puget Sound Health Partners, but McCurdy didn’t know the location of the chemical cloud. The building was ventilated Saturday afternoon to make it safe to re-enter.

The Lakewood Fire Department has sent out a release about the incident:

Three Firefighters, One Civilian Transported to Hospital After HazMat Response

Lakewood, Wash. – At approximately 12:00 p.m. today, the Lakewood Fire Department responded to a smoke alarm activation at an office building, located at 7502 Lakewood Drive W.

Crews arrived to the scene to find a white haze in the building at the ceiling level, belived to be smoke. Once inside, one firefighter began to feel ill and the crew backed out of the building. As a precaution, all three firefighters and a civilian were transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

The civilian in the office building was cleaning at the time of the incident. It is believed that cleaning solutions were the cause. The haze found inside is now being evaluated by the McChord Fire Department HazMat Team and the Pierce County Hazardous Incident Team and they are determining their next course of action.

According to a later release, the incident has been resolved:

HazMat Incident Resolved in Lakewood

Lakewood, Wash. – Almost four hours after the original 911 call, the Hazardous Materials incident in Lakewood has been resolved. After investigation, the Hazardous Incident Team has determined the haze was caused by mixing numerous cleaning chemicals together.

The team is packaging the materials and is in contact with the Department of Ecology for proper disposal. They are also ventilating the building, making it safe to reenter.

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