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Chemical fire spurs neighborhood evacuation, injures workers

A group of residents in Allegheny County was ushered out of their more than 70 homes on Tuesday morning. Imagine their shock as emergency officials roused them out their beds, interrupted their breakfasts and morning routines. Imagine the fear they likely felt when officials informed them that the air circulating through their homes and neighborhood was toxic.

What caused the rapid emergency response? It was a chemical fire at a nearby warehouse. The fire at the Lubrizol Corp.’s Oilfield Chemistry started in the late morning when workers were handling hydraulic fracturing chemicals. They were pouring them into a production tank when the fire broke out.

What caused the fire? News reports did not indicate the source of the ignition, and officials may not yet know. What they did know, is that they had to contain the flames spreading across the building and several nearby structures, engulfing them in smoke. They had to get the workers and the residents in the area away from the toxins escaping from the building and traveling miles away.

Was anyone injured? Three workers from the plant and several firefighters were being treated for injuries, including burns from the fire and respiratory injuries from inhaling the ammonium persulfate and sodium chlorite in the air. It is unclear whether any residents were injured due to inhalation of the fumes.

Does anyone have a potential claim for compensation? The answer here is yes. The workers who were injured may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even if their own actions contributed to the fire.

Residents in the surrounding area, even though they were not directly involved in the workplace accident, may also have a claim for personal injury compensation against the company should respiratory problems exacerbate or present in the following days.

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