An early morning fire at the Witte Company in Washington Township, NJ, last Monday later caused respiratory problems among 23 workers in the afternoon, ultimately sending five people to the hospital for difficulty breathing, officials said.
The fire first ended up reported as a warehouse fire with paper products at company headquarters, where they design and manufacture drying, cooling, screening and other process equipment.
The fire was out by 10 a.m., but the Warren County HAZMAT team ended up called to the building to examine conditions of the fire which involved a toxic organic product, said Tom Nigro of the Warren County Health Department.
The HAZMAT team investigated as there was a great deal of concern from workers, Nigro said.
A material safety data sheet ended up provided on the unnamed product, and Nigro said HAZMAT found it was not high in acid and they were able to contain it to the building and the parking lot meaning there were no air quality issues and no risk to storm drains or waterways.
However, because the product had limited details, Nigro and his team contacted the state Department of Environmental Protection, who arrived at before 2 p.m. as HAZMAT was leaving.
Additionally, the Witte Company hired a cleanup company to manage the incident, Nigro said.
Out of 23 workers assisted by first responders and EMS, Washington Township Police said five ended up going to a local hospital for further examination. Their condition was not immediately available.
A spokeswoman for the Witte Company said they have no comment.