OH Chem Fire Forces Evac

Monday, March 6, 2017 @ 05:03 PM gHale

Firefighters use water to douse a chemical fire at Lithium Innovations Thursday.

A chemical fire at a building in Toledo, OH, Thursday forced an evacuation while firefighters grappled with how to put the blaze out.

With the nature of the chemicals involved, they finally decided water would work as the amount of the metal lithium inside the building wasn’t as much as first thought.

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There were no injuries in the blaze that broke out at 3 p.m. Thursday. Lithium Innovations’ six employees ended up evacuated and police set up a perimeter of several blocks.

At least 100 residents evacuated as those living in a five-block radius ended up urged to leave by members of the Toledo Fire Department. By late Thursday night, all residents were able to return to their homes.

Lithium Innovations produces lithium materials used in the glass industry to make windows.

Fire crews initially held off on using water to fight the fire because combining water and lithium produces a highly flammable hydrogen gas.

As thick black smoke billowed into the sky for hours, the plume was visible for miles throughout Toledo. Flames continued to shoot from the roof of the building more than three hours after the blaze was first reported.

Late Thursday, fire officials said they changed their tactics because of the nature of the chemicals inside. After flying a drone over the site and evaluating the contents of the building, they decided to pour water onto the blaze from two ladder trucks outside the manufacturing company.

The Environmental Protection Agency was on the scene along with Hazardous Materials Unit.

Complications from exposure to lithium include nausea, vomiting, and muscle soreness. Anyone who might feel they are suffering from exposure should seek medical help.

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