A hazardous materials incident in south Sacramento that seemed under control early Wednesday afternoon became anything but hours later when a trailer holding up to 40 chemical substances burst into flames.
The fire was contained in less than 15 minutes, fire officials said, but not before a thick plume of dark smoke spread over the Mike & Son's Truck Repair yard near Elder Creek Road and Florin Perkins Road.
The daylong saga began around 8 a.m.when fumes started wafting from a tractor-trailer at the shipping yard.
The Sacramento Fire Department and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District responded to the incident, which was declared a Level 3 hazmat situation. A Level 3 is the most severe category of hazardous materials incidents, occurring when officials must identify the material involved and a decontamination team is required.
Due to cutbacks of its hazmat team, the Sacramento Fire Department also called on the Roseville Fire Department to respond, said Sacramento Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Lloyd Ogan.
Crews ventilated the trailer and evacuated more than 50 nearby businesses, Ogan said.
It was determined that oil containing refrigerant had leaked from a container in the trailer and likely mixed with another chemical to create the fumes, said Sacramento Fire Department Assistant Chief Niko King. Three people were transported to a hospital for some "inhalation irritation," King said.
The situation seemed to be resolved around 1 p.m., when fire officials turned the cleanup over to Clean Harbors, a hazardous chemicals disposal company based in Massachusetts that was storing the trailer at Mike & Son's, Rexroad said.
However, Ogan said, officials believe that before the truck could be unloaded, two non-compatible chemicals came into contact and ignited a fire around 5 p.m.
Although Ogan said all of the substances in the truck were hazardous, he said officials had been unable to determine precisely what they were.
Crews were expected to remain on the scene throughout the night, sequestering the water used to battle the truck fire and ensuring that the materials did not flare up again, Ogan said.