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San Jose Chemical Fire Produces Toxic Fumes, Caustic Runoff

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- A hazardous materials crew is cleaning up a "chemical soup" at an automotive plating and metal work business in North San Jose where a four-alarm fire took place earlier Tuesday morning, a fire captain said.

The blaze left puddles combined of chemicals, including a variety of acids, and etching materials, San Jose fire Capt. Mike Van Elgort said.

The first report of the fire came in at about 12:30 a.m., a fire dispatcher said. Van Elgort said the fire burned in a large tilt-up commercial building that is home to Haro's Metal Finishing, an automotive plating and metal work business. Firefighters had stopped the spread of the fire by about 2:10 a.m.

Van Elgort said a sign indicating that hazardous materials are inside is posted on the outside of the building. Acrid fume surrounding the building indicate chemicals inside the building contributed to the fire.

According to Van Elgort, the runoff from the fire is caustic because of the chemicals inside the building and crews are working to contain the green foamy runoff so it doesn't go down the storm drains and harm the environment. The firefighters are also being decontaminated.

San Jose fire said it was a tough call, but it had no choice but to douse the fire with water and not let it burn itself out.

sj warehouse
The charred remains of the commercial building in San Jose. (CBS SF)

"We're not comfortable with that option due to the other businesses and the potential that the smoke could become increasingly hazardous," Van Elgort said. "We were well aware that we could potentially have a contaminated pool afterwards."

Neither firefighters nor civilians have been injured and there has been no need for evacuations or a shelter in place order, Van Elgort said.

The fire has produced minimal drift smoke and few if any residential homes are nearby, Van Elgort said.

Van Elgort said the cause and origin of the fire is under investigation.

TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.


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