Officials say there was an explosion at Line-X of Lincoln, located at 4400 N. 48th, Suite 7, just before noon Thursday. No one was injured in the explosion, but 18 firefighters were taken to the hospital for observation because of chemical exposure. All 18 firefighters were released from the hospital Thursday night. They will be allowed to go back to work as scheduled beginning Friday.
The firefighters were only hospitalized as a precaution. Health officials believe the firefighters may have inhaled the chemical MDI. MDI is toxic if breathed in and is known to cause delayed health reactions. Side effects include trouble breathing and fluid in the lungs. Prolonged exposure could cause death. Health officials do not believe firefighters had prolonged exposure.
Acting Battalion Chief Dustin Morton said his crews got the call around noon and the first units to arrive saw smoke coming from the building that applies spray-on truck bed liners.
Morton said crews entering the front of the businesses found a vehicle on fire inside one of the bays. The fire was being contained by the sprinkler system and was put out quickly. Morton said the sprinklers saved the building and kept the fire from spreading to neighboring businesses.
The same can't be said for thousands of dollars of firefighting equipment though. Morton said the chemicals used in the spraying process was oil based and corrosive. As the crews fought the fire and entered the building they were coated in the material.
Morton said the chemical sets quickly and is very difficult to clean off and as a result almost anything that it came in contact with will have to be thrown out. That includes pants, coats and other gear for 15-20 firefighters and any hose that was inside Line-X.
Morton said it would take his department much longer to sort out the mess and replace the contaminated gear than it did to fight the fire. He said he believed the insurance for Line-X would help cover some of the costs for the ruined equipment.