Thirteen firefighters were taken to area hospitals for treatment Wednesday after fighting a garage fire in Hamilton that contained chlorine, fire officials said.
The 2:45 p.m. fire ripped through two large garages in the 2000 block of South Broad Street, gutting the buildings and at destroying two vehicles parked inside one of the garages, firefighters and witnesses said.
One of the garages contained a container of chlorine, the kind used in backyard pools, and when it burned it caused a gas that caused several firefighters to suffer respiratory injuries, fire officials said.
At about 3:15 p.m., as an odor of a chemical hung in the air, fire officials and Hamilton police officers moved onlookers out of the immediate block, saying the fumes from the chlorine would be harmful to inhale.
And the numerous firefighters who responded were moved a block away and emergency medical officials started setting up a decontamination process for the firefighters, so they could then be taken to local emergency rooms for evaluation.
On Wednesday night, officials said 13 firefighters had been taken to local hospitals, 12 for respiratory testing and one for facial burns.
The cause of the fire was under investigation Wednesday by fire investigators from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Hamilton police and township fire marshals.
Hamilton Fire Marshal Scott McCormick, reached at the scene on his cell phone at about 4 p.m., said he was about to be evaluated by EMS officials and then headed to the hospital for treatment. He could not provide further details.
McCormick said a fire chief who was in charge of the initial firefighting efforts was also headed to the hospital.
Firefighters and EMS crews from Trenton, Robbinsville, and northern Burlington County assisted Hamilton firefighters at the scene. Hamilton’s hazardous materials firefighting unit was also at the scene.
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