More than 100 firefighters assist on Fitchburg CO incident

More than 100 firefighters assist on Fitchburg CO incident

More than 100 firefighters from multiple agencies across Dane County worked 17 hours to remove hazardous material at a Fitchburg plastics company’s production building, an official said Saturday.

Fitchburg fire Deputy Chief Rich Roth said the department responded to a report of an employee who showed signs of carbon monoxide poisoning at the EcoStar facility at 6124 McKee Road.

Firefighters confirmed high CO levels inside the building and the department followed protocol and contacted the Madison Hazardous Incident Team, or HIT, Roth said. The National Guard’s 54th Civil Support Team in Madison also responded with its chemical biological monitoring team.

The teams determined there was a chemical reaction happening in a pellet storage bin in the EcoStar building’s production area, Roth said. EcoStar recycles used plastics into plastic sheets that are sold commercially, according to the company website.

To reduce the CO in the building to a safe level, firefighters, HIT and guard members had to remove about 7,000 pounds of plastic pellets from a large storage bin by hand, Roth said. To tackle the task, hazmat response was organized including mutual aid from many Dane County fire departments. Teams were rotated in shifts for about 17 hours through Friday night and Saturday morning.

Roth estimated that about 120 fire and EMS personnel were involved in the large-scale, labor-intensive operation overnight.

“We never had to strip fire and EMS protection from another area,” Roth said. “We’d leap frog communities so that we didn’t get everybody right closest to the scene and not leave people unprotected.”

The building was cleared of the hazardous material and turned over to EcoStar managers at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Roth said.

Messages to EcoStar and its parent company, Placon, were not immediately returned Saturday afternoon.