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South Passaic Daily Voice serves Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, North Haledon, Passaic, Paterson, Prospect Park, Totowa, Wayne & Woodland Park

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'Drug Dungeon': Synth Pot Lab Found In Paterson Basement, 4 Firefighters Sickened By Fumes

Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale, Mayor Andre Sayegh
Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale, Mayor Andre Sayegh Photo Credit: CBS2 New York

Four firefighters were briefly hospitalized after an overnight explosion and fire at a large-scale synth pot lab in the basement of a Paterson home up the block from a school.

The firefighters were evaluated as a precaution and then released from St.Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson after they inhaled noxious fumes at the Illinois Avenue residence, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.

“What it appears to be is a K2 mill,” Speziale said.

Sold cheaply in packages the size of tea bags, K2 is what some officials have referred to as “weaponized marijuana.”

It’s mixed with mind-altering chemicals to create a highly potent form of marijuana.

Thursday’s overnight incident began shortly after 1 a.m. with a small fire ignited by a minor explosion of chemicals in what Mayor Andre Sayegh called "a drug dungeon" up the street from No. 25 School.

A battalion chief, a captain and two firefighters at first found bins of what appeared to be ground-up pot leaves, the director said.

They also found a mixer and the highly explosive precursor acetone.

“You flip a switch on a light and that static electricity could blow this house right off the block,” the director said.

“The fumes from the acetone are so strong that it was able to overtake [the firefighters],” he said.

Firefighters quickly doused the two-alarm blaze. Hazardous materials experts were summoned.

The Red Cross was relocating two families living there – one of six, one of five -- who weren’t involved, Speziale said.

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office was notified. An investigation was continuing.

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