Audrey Cooney and Erin Tiernan and Erin Tiernan
The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, Mass.
Six people, including two police officers and a firefighter, were taken to the hospital Tuesday evening after an 81-year-old man put his car in reverse and crashed into a gas pump at a Franklin Street gas station.
Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Burchill said the three first responders, two pedestrians and the driver were all taken to the hospital to be treated for exposure to chemicals after the gas station’s fire suppression system was triggered following the crash, causing breathing problems and throat irritation. He said their injuries were minor.
The man drove into the pump at Prestige Gas at 9 Franklin St. just after 5 p.m., striking one of the pumps closest to the road, authorities said. The pump fell onto an SUV, which had to be towed away. Firefighters were working to get people out of their cars when the fire suppression chemicals were expelled, coating emergency responders and the ground in a snow-like white dusting.
“The accident happened first, and as we were over here trying to extract people from their vehicles, that’s when the expellant released,” Burchill said. He said the suppressant is a sodium bicarbonate that’s released at a high pressure to suffocate fires.
“Frosty the Snowman is the best way (to describe people covered in the powder),” Burchill said. “It was just a big white cloud.”
Despite the release of the fire suppressant chemicals, there was no fire, he said. The chemical release was likely an error or malfunction, he said.
He said he expects everyone will make a full recovery.
Quincy police Capt. John Dougan said police are investigating, but no charges have been filed against the driver.
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