Chemical Mixture sends Homeowner & First Responder to Hospital

Tour Commander, 509.625.7100

Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 9:01 a.m.

At 8:47 PM, the Spokane Fire Department (SFD) was dispatched to a medical incident in the 2600-blk of N Atlantic St. An adult occupant called 9-1-1 after experiencing symptoms relating to drain clearing products that were used to clear a clogged sink. The occupant was told to wait outside for responding units. SFD units arrived to find the homeowner on the porch and who was assessed in preparation for transport. The patient reported that their spouse was still inside. Their spouse was located quickly and evacuated from the home. A single occupant was transported to the hospital. 

Firefighters checked the house with atmospheric monitors and did not find readings outside of normal parameters. While breathing air from self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), firefighters realized that a second household chemical was likely used with the drain cleaner. When drain cleaner and bleach is mixed, the resulting product can be chlorine gas. On-scene units called the SFD Hazardous Materials Response Team supervisor for guidance and the incident was upgraded to a Hazardous Materials incident.

In an effort to turn the home back over to the homeowners, the hazardous materials team removed the remaining chemicals from the sink’s pea trap and associated piping. The home was checked thoroughly using meters and turned back over to the homeowners.

The nature of the incident was determined to be accidental. It is important that users of household chemicals carefully read all labeling prior to use. The chlorine gas produced by ammonia and bleach being mixed can result in minor airway irritation in low concentrations or death in higher concentrations. A first responder was treated and released.