Ten firefighters were taken to hospital, three of whom were given naloxone, after falling ill while at the scene of a house fire on Wednesday afternoon on Webster Road in the city of Portland.
All first responders have since been released and are recovering at home, Portland Fire Chief David McIntyre said.
In his decades in the fire department, McIntyre said he had never encountered a situation in which so many firefighters were struck down with illness at the same time. He said there is “Rumors and Guesses” as to what firefighters were exposed to while battling the remains of the blaze, but nothing has been made official.
Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone confirmed Wednesday that several firefighters were “submerged in smoke” while he was on the scene. Firefighters were transported to hospitals in Westfield and Dunkirk.
Firefighters were alerted to smoke inside a home at 6842 Webster Road around 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. The first official on the scene noticed thick black smoke coming from the house and soon after reported that the property was engulfed in flames.
By 4 p.m., the bulk of the fire had been brought under control and the local American Red Cross branch had been called.
It was around 4.30pm when a multitude of ambulances were called to the scene after several firefighters fell ill.
“Three had to be given Narcan,” McIntyre said, referring to the opioid overdose antidote. “A total of 10 were taken to hospital.”
He added, “The house was completely destroyed. … We have no idea where anything was inside or what might have been there.
Firefighters from Portland, Fredonia, Westfield, Brocton and Stockton responded, as did Chautauqua County EMS. County fire investigators were later called in.
The Portland Fire Department posted the following statement on Facebook Thursday:
“The Portland Fire Department would like to thank all of our brothers and sisters who assisted us last night at our Webster Road Fire. At this time, we have been in contact with departments that had members dispatched to area hospitals and are grateful to report that everyone is now at home and being closely monitored. We would like to thank the community for reaching out to us during this difficult time. »
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that the cause of the fire is still under investigation.