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Chief: Chemical fire cost Cranston $150K in gear; Cause still unknown

A three-alarm chemical fire at a Cranston business sent at least 14 firefighters to the hospital Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. (WJAR)

Authorities returned to the scene of a Cranston fire Wednesday to try to figure out what sent 14 firefighters to the hospital earlier in the week.

Now, NBC 10 News has learned it'll cost nearly $150,000 to replace their gear that was damaged during the blaze.

The fire broke out Monday at Prosys Finishing Technologies, which is located on Elwood Avenue. It's a business that specializes in metal finishing and cleaning products, with about 80 different chemicals stored there.

"They had people exhibiting some breathing problems and some irritation on their skin," said Cranston Emergency Services Director Paul Casey. "Just the feeling they had been exposed to something dangerous."

The 14 firefighters have all been released from the hospital, but some of them are still being monitored.

But Cranston Fire Chief Bill McKenna said their gear is contaminated and longer safe to use.

"The list that we have is somewhere in the vicinity of 70 or 80 chemicals that were in the building," McKenna said.

McKenna said his department is looking to recover money from the building owner or look to federal grants for help funding for new gear.

"We're also refitting clothing for the medical people who transported our first injured firefighter to the hospital," McKenna said.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, along with private companies, continue to test the chemicals.

NBC 10 has also learned the building was brought up to code in the fall after the Fire Department noticed deficiencies in the alarm systems and the way materials were stored.

The chemicals prompted an area-wide response Monday.

"North Kingstown had the decontamination team (and) Limerock Fire Department came in and did the atmospheric monitoring," Casey said. "Warwick and Cranston made entry into the building."

McKenna said he us just thankful everyone is OK.

"The fact that everybody is able to come back to work is a great thing for us," he said.

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