Chemicals ignite industrial fire

WEATHERSFIELD – More than 40 firefighters from Weathersfield and Niles fought an industrial chemical fire along state Route 169 in frigid temperatures for more than five hours Saturday.

Fire officials said they were forced to use a salt compound to suppress the blaze at ITPS Inc. in Niles Commerce Park between Niles and Warren’s southeast side.

Weathersfield fire department was called to the scene about 9:40 a.m., Saturday, by the company that said 18 to 20 barrels of chemicals inside its warehouse were on fire.

Fire Chief Randall Pugh said ITPS Inc. accepts 55-gallon barrels of material from steel making companies that contain titanium, nickel and chromium.

“Because the barrels had a combination of chemicals that include titanium, nickel and chromium, we could not use water to put out the fire, because water would have caused the titanium to explode,” Pugh said.

Because there was concern about the various chemicals at the site, the fire departments called in the Trumbull County Hazmat and the Ohio EPA to monitor what was being done.

“We called in the EPA because we wanted to make sure there was not going to be an environmental problem while we were fighting the fire,” Pugh said. “Although we did not have to do it, we were prepared to evacuate people from the area.”

The company, according to Pugh, had hundreds of bags of salt located around its site specifically to fight fires.

The departments used dump trucks and backhoes from Weathersfield and Niles to transport the salt to the site of the fire.

“Initially we used shovels to throw the large bags of salt on the fire,” Pugh said.