5:15 PM EDT, September 18, 2012
ELKHART – Hazmat crews were called to a north side Elkhart business Tuesday afternoon.
Shortly before 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, a fire was reported in the mixing room of Superior Oil. The business is on All Pro Drive near the Elkhart Municipal Airport, north of County Road 6.
The building was evacuated and other fire departments in the area were called to provide mutual aid.
WSBT spoke with Superior Vice President of Operations Steve Wakefield, who said an employee was filling a portable tank with flammable solvent, causing a flash fire.
A suppression foam firefighting system kicked in and blanketed the blaze with foam, extinguishing it.
One employee suffered burns to his hands and was taken to a hospital in Fort Wayne. The worker was wearing a fire protective suit at the time.
It does not appear the building was damaged.
Hazmat was called because fumes had built up in the building. Foam mixed with solvent, and there was concern about how far it might spread.
An unknown amount of solvent spilled, although what did spill was contained to the inside of the building.
"Our biggest problem after knocking down the fire was if there was chemical in the suppression water and the fact we have this runoff, and now, it's how to deal with these chemicals," Osolo Township firefighter Randy Stone said. "Also, there was a build up of vapor in the building and it smelled like nail polish, and it could give you a headache, so we're trying to get rid of those vapors."
It's up to a private contractor to help clean up the building.
Superior Oil has 11 locations around the Midwest and has been in Elkhart around 15 years.
The company distributes fiberglass and resins used in the RV and truck part business.
Employees in surrounding buildings were asked not to leave for awhile because of the concern over fumes, but soon after 4:30, a steady stream of cars were seen leaving the industrial area.
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