SIGNAL HILL (CBSLA) — A Costco in Signal Hill was evacuated Friday afternoon after a U-Haul authorities said was carrying approximately 600 pounds of chlorine power caught fire.
"I was in Costco, and I had a lot of pool supplies, chlorine in my truck, and one of the workers came in and knocked on my back and said, 'Your car's on fire,'" Zachary Duchin, the driver, said. "And apparently it was."
According to the Los Angeles County fire Department, a U-Haul carrying about 600 pounds of chlorine powder was involved in a crash shortly before 2 p.m. and caught fire in the parking lot of the store in the 2200 block of East Willow Street.
"The owner of the truck came out and advised us that there was chlorine inside," Inspector Sean Ferguson, with L.A. County Fire, said. "Essentially what [is happening] now is a very methodical operation."
Duchin said he flew from Oakland to Southern California to buy all the pool chlorine pellets he could find. Due to a critical nationwide shortage, he said his plan was to buy the pellets, stuff them in the truck, take then back to Northern California and resell them for more than double on Amazon.
"There's probably like $30 grand of chlorine in there that's now gone," he said.
Authorities said the store was evacuated out of an abundance of caution and hazardous materials crews were brought in to assess the situation.
The fire was put out shortly before 4:15 p.m., though fire crews were expected to remain on scene to continue monitoring the air and water runoff.
There were no reports of serious injuries, though one person was treated by paramedics and released at the scene. The Costco was allowed to reopen to customers later in the evening.
Duchin said he never expected his hustle to go up in smoke.
"I did not know I was going to carry a bomb," he said. "Luckily I was inside [Costco] and not inside the car."
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