It started out as a business fire on Wednesday, but as Eden Prairie firefighters began taking off their gear, it all changed.
“That’s when firefighters were experiencing tingling in their hands and arms, and also we had at least two firefighters developing rashes,” Eden Prairie Fire Chief George Esbensen said. “And that’s just a very, very uncommon kind of occurrence.”
Esbensen believes six fighters were burned by hydrofluoric acid, a very dangerous chemical that burns through skin. Now, $100,000 worth of contaminated equipment is in quarantine — hoses, tanks, plus fifteen sets of gear.
“Our hope is that we can figure out a way to bring this back, but we’re not going to do that unless we have absolute guarantee that after we’re done cleaning it, it’s 100-percent safe to use for our firefighters,” Esbensen said.
Investigators were back on scene Thursday at the scene of the fire at SVT Associates, a high-tech manufacturer. The chief said the fire appears accidental, but they want to determine whether the business needed warning signs for the chemicals.
Meanwhile, all injured firefighters are back at home after spending four to five hours in the hospital.
“It started out as I want to say routine fire, but there’s no such thing, it turned into a much larger event than I would have anticipated,” Esbensen said.