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Oil Cleanup Sparks Wilton Chemical Fire

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.:  Most of the fire trucks and officers had left the scene by 2:30 p.m. Monday, an officer said. Those who remained were acting as support for the crew doing cleanup, which is expected to take until late Monday night. The entrances to Pond Road were also still blocked by Wilton Police.

ORIGINAL STORY: WILTON, Conn. – The Wilton Fire Department asked residents near and on Pond Road to stay inside because of a chemical fire that began at about 10 a.m. Monday.

Smoke being released from the fire at 26 Pond Road was causing concern. A “white vapor” was coming from the tank when the Fire Department arrived, and a “small fire” was burning next to a plastic tank used to mix chemicals, fire Chief Paul Milositz said.

“The DEEP, the Fire Department and Fairfield County Hazardous Materials team is on the scene, and the scene has been contained, and there is no further danger to anyone in the surrounding area,” Milositz said. But “we’re asking the people in the immediate area of Pond Road to remain in their house, although, I don’t believe there is much danger to them being outside.”

The fire occurred when two chemicals, calcium peroxide and sodium persulfate, were mixed in a tank and caused an exothermic reaction, Milositz said. The release of heat resulted in the chemicals burning through the side of the tank and continuing to react.

The chemicals are commonly mixed with water to clean oil spills. “They eat the oil,” Milositz said. Although the exact cause of the fire was unknown, Milositz said it is possible a foreign substance was in the tank that caused a reaction. Another possibility, he said, is that the water used to mix the chemicals contained too much iron.

“We’re doing some measurements of the pH, which is the measurement of the acidity in the soil and of the liquid that’s in the tanks now,” Milositz said. The next step, he said, would be to transfer the remaining chemical mixture into a safe container and remove it from the scene.

Cleanup of the scene was being left to the company doing the original cleanup, Redox LLC, which specializes in environmental work. 

About half of the Hazardous Materials team, along with firefighters from Weston and the entire Wilton Fire Department, responded to the fire, although the exact number of trucks and firefighters was not known. As of 12:30 p.m., no one had been taken to the hospital.

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