Aug. 6, 2002 – The owner of the trailer that was the focus of a fire involving hazardous materials at the Polyberg Texaco gas station on Saturday said on Monday the only thing inside was a 55-gallon drum of granular activated carbon.
Firefighters responding to a fire in the trailer at the gas station at the bottom of Polyberg Hill called in a hazardous materials team on Saturday when water poured onto the fire produced a chemical reaction that forced them to pull back their operations. Preliminary tests did not determine what caused the reaction. On Monday V.I. Fire Service investigators were on the scene, seeking to determine the cause of the fire.
The trailer is owned by TSG Technologies Inc., an environmental clean-up company which had set up operations at the gas station to test the underlying soil for possible chemical contamination and, if necessary, treat it. On Saturday, St. Thomas-St. John District Fire Chief Merwyn Potter said the trailer had been taken to the station several days before the fire.
The technician who had been working out of the trailer said the only thing inside was granual activated carbon. "It's used to clean air or water of any number of contaminants," TSG's Bob Peterson said.
Fire Service investigator Wayne Crooke identified the material in the drum as a carbon vapor absorbant. When the substance comes in contact with water, he said, it "removes the fresh air from the area, and you have difficulty breathing." Two firefighters sustained inhalation injuries while fighting the fire on Saturday and were taken to nearby Roy L. Schneider Hospital for treatment.
By late Monday, Crooke said, investigators were still trying to figure out what caused the fire. "My focus is to try and determine the origin," he said.
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