Chemical fire averted by firefighters

Firefighters used thermal imaging equipment to avert a potential house fire in Hilo late Sunday night.

According to a written Fire Department statement, six units responded to the 11:11 p.m. alarm, with the first unit arriving four minutes later, to find all occupants of the two rental units at 911 Waianuenue Ave. self-evacuated from home, sitting in a vehicle in driveway.

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An occupant stated there was smoke, but no fire visible. Upon investigation, firefighters found a container of beauty products was in the process of spontaneously combusting, melting the plastic around it, but no flames had started yet.

According to the statement, the product was a plastic container containing SalonCare “Quick White,” a bleaching power containing ammonium persulfate and potassium persulfate, strong oxidizing agents that caused spontaneous heating ignition of the organic materials in the product.

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Using a thermal imager, firefighters were able to find the source of the decomposing product and remove it without damage to the home. Based on the temperature of the product measured by the thermal imager and the melted plastic surrounding it, it was likely no more than a few hours before it would have caught fire.

HFD recommends that all residents regularly review their inventory of all household products that are toxic, flammable, oxidizers or expired drugs and dispose of them through the county’s hazardous waste program, available on the county’s Department of Environmental Management website.

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