Contamination Concern In Lackawanna County

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JESSUP---The parking lot at BAE Systems in Jessup was filled with fire trucks ambulances and emergency crews for most of Monday afternoon.

Fire crews said just after noon, a piece of equipment inside the building on Alberigi Drive caught fire.

The building was evacuated.

BAE Systems is a defense contractor, and at the Jessup location, workers make helmets and body armor.

A spokeswoman for the company said 8 employees near the fire were taken to the hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.

There were concerns about possible contamination.

"When DEP got here, their air quality people took a look at the msds sheets and some of the other information and determined that the material was hazardous, but it could be treated with soap and water. It wasn't extremely bad but it could have some long-term effects," said Jessup Fire Chief Steve Pitoniak.

Volunteers with the Lackawanna County Decontamination Unit responded.

About 50 firefighters were hosed down, their equipment too.

"We use engine companies that have special nozzles on them and those nozzles basically give you a high powered shower to make sure everything is washed off of you, off gear, breathing apparatus and from there that gear goes to an EMS station to be checked for anything else that may have gone wrong with it," said decontamination coordinator Wayne Smith.

Fire officials said they have practiced for situation where they would need a decontamination team and they said in this case, it worked really well.

"It went as designed. The incident commander from Jessup decided he had a need, he asked communication center to dispatch the teams and other units and as you can see, there was no shortage, we filled the parking lot," said Smith.