Fourteen firefighters injured in chemical fire at Cranston business

First responders tend to a firefighter who was injured in a chemical fire at a Cranston jewelry manufacturer on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. (NBC 10 News Photographer Bob Farrell) 

A three-alarm chemical fire at a Cranston business sent at least 14 firefighters to the hospital Monday evening.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., firefighters from Cranston and surrounding communities responded to a building on Elmwood Avenue for a report of a fire in a chemical room.

Bob Brown was working in the area at the time.

"9/11 -- (that's what) this looks like. Every city around here seems to be represented," Brown NBC 10 News at the scene. "As they got increasingly involved over here, you realized it was nothing to fool around with."

Upon arrival, fire was coming from a room that houses a variety of chemicals.

"In the act of putting out the fire, along with the sprinkler system that is in the building, the chemicals were disturbed, some mixed and some left in containers," Chief Bill McKenna of the Cranston Fire Department said. "Once they got inside and realized it was more than just a fire, they backed right out. Their gear was contaminated and was actually breaking down from those particular chemicals."

At least one firefighter was taken out on a stretcher and put in an ambulance.

However, McKenna said they all suffered non-life-threatening injuries, adding that some have been released from the hospital and they are expected to be OK.

The hazardous materials crew was called to the scene, along with a decontamination unit, and a nearby pre-school was evacuated as a precaution.

Meanwhile, McKenna said crews headed back into the building just after 6:30 p.m. to evaluate the situation.

McKenna said it started in the back of the building, where a company called Prosys Finishing Technologies is renting space. There, authorities said they found "a multitude of chemicals."

"It became quite hazardous when we found out there were chemicals that had been disturbed," McKenna said. "We’re monitoring the exterior of the building and the air around us to make sure it’s safe to be here."

But he would not say exactly what chemicals were involved or if the building was up to code.

"We’ve been in and out of this building quite a bit in the past year," McKenna said.

The building will be closed Tuesday while a private company cleans up the chemicals. Fire investigators said that has to happen before they can determine a cause.

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