By LT. KIP SHUTER
Warsaw Police Department
At approximately 10:55 a.m. this morning, a Warsaw patrol officer noticed smoke coming from a building behind Warsaw Chemical, located at 390 South Argonne Road, on the east side of Warsaw.
Fire units arrived and found a working fire in a storage building where multiple containers of chemicals are stored. The smoke from the fire and chemicals prompted an evacuation of approximately 50 residences and businesses in the area. It also prompted the closure of several streets on the southeast side of Warsaw and the northwest side of the Town of Winona Lake. The heat and fire caused an unknown number of chemical containers to breach and mix with the water used for extinguishment. The contaminated water flowed into the storm sewer and out into Winona Lake.
In attempts to mitigate the water shed, five City of Warsaw wastewater employees were exposed to chemical fumes, which caused burning to their eyes and lungs. Two firefighters were also exposed to the fumes. The firefighters and wastewater employees all received decontamination at the scene and were transported to Kosciusko Community Hospital for further decontamination, treatment, testing, and evaluation. Officials at the scene were also notified of a Warsaw Chemical employee that received burns to his hands and was also taken to KCH for treatment.
Representatives from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have been on scene to determine what effects the chemicals, once known, may have on the lake. As a precaution, DNR is advising the public to stay off the ice and not to fish from Winona Lake until it can be determined the volume and toxicity of the chemicals.
Fire personnel fully extinguished the fire at 2:20 p.m., and after testing the air in the area, the evacuation was lifted at 3:38 p.m. Several of the closed streets were reopened when the evacuation was lifted, but streets near Warsaw Chemical remain closed at this time. Some of these streets may be closed for an extended period of time. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and remains under investigation[weaver_youtube 20VRMfFGyak rel=0]