DEEP RIVER - Several people inhaled chemicals after a fire suppression system accidentally went off at a Cumberland Farms in Deep River Monday afternoon.
Around 250 lbs of fire suppressant material was discharged at the gas station at 177 Main Street at 12:33pm, according to Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials. DEEP said the substance is sodium bicarbonate similar to what is found in home fire extinguishers.
The system is designed to address any vehicle fires at the gas pumps by spraying a fine, powdery substance, which covered numerous vehicles as well as some of the surrounding properties. That powder can be a respiratory irritant when inhaled. Deep River's fire chief said there did not appear to be any fire.
Four people were taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation and any treatment required.
An elementary school behind the gas station kept students in place. The school district developed plans to coordinate their release to avoid any of the children having to walk through the area, as route 154 was closed during cleanup. Route 154 reopened just before 6 p.m. though clean up was still underway.
The State's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Emergency Response team was called in to help local firefighters with cleanup of the accident.
Cumberland Farms released the following statement on Monday afternoon:
The fire suppression system at the Cumberland Farms store at 177 Main Street in Deep River, Connecticut, malfunctioned this afternoon. Although the cause of the malfunction has yet to be determined, it has been confirmed that no fire took place. A few customers who were pumping gas at the time were taken to the hospital as a precaution. We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this has caused to the community and to our customers. The store and gas pumps will remain closed until the area is cleared and a Fire Department inspection is complete.