8 firefighters treated after chemicals ignite Volunteers were battling brush fire that spread from dilapidated shed

June 19, 1998|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Eight volunteer firefighters fighting a brush fire near Salisbury suffered respiratory problems yesterday when pesticides in a storage shed ignited, shooting out plumes of green and orange smoke.

The firefighters from Sharptown and Mardela Springs were treated at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury and released, fire officials said.

Sharptown Volunteer Fire Chief William White said that Jerry Matyiko was burning a dilapidated shed on land he owns along Elzey Brown Loop near Sharptown about 11 a.m. when the fire got out of control and spread to surrounding brush and trees.

White said firefighters were bringing the fire under control when the flames ignited pesticides, including a quantity of Treflan, a pesticide used as a weed killer.

The substances gave off plumes of green and orange smoke, which firefighters inhaled.

Matyiko, a contractor who moves houses, could not be reached last night.

But White said that Matyiko apparently was unaware that the aged shed contained hazardous chemicals.

The fire was brought under control at 1: 30 p.m. and was extinguished about 7: 30 p.m., he said.

A hospital spokeswoman said that medical officials were told about 3 p.m. that firefighters were being brought in to be checked for respiratory problems.

But she said that none of the firefighters was admitted for treatment.

White said that he and seven other firefighters were checked at the hospital as a precaution when relief units from six neighboring fire companies arrived to help. About 30 firefighters responded, he said.

"We felt some nausea and I had some difficulty breathing. I wasn't sure if it was the chemicals or just the smoke from the fire," White said.

Pub Date: 6/19/98

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