Firefighters still recovering from fighting blaze

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

Fire can be one of the most deadly forces known to man but it is the unknown that had some local firefighters most concerned.

Though exact numbers remain unknown, as many as 16 firefighters from several of the departments that helped battle a Tuesday blaze at the Grandview Inn and Suites in Sheridan have been treated at area hospitals for potential chemical burns.

&#8221It felt like my skin was on fire,“ said Gary Sherman, chief of the Coal Grove Volunteer Fire Department, who went to King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Ky., Tuesday and was kept in the ICU overnight for observation. &#8221I am sure some of it was from the heat, but it was more than that.“

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&#8221To be honest with you, I am still not sure exactly what we were exposed to. I have been in this business 23 years, I have been heat burnt more times than I can count. This is worse than that. We were definitely exposed to something.“

Sherman said they were fine when leaving the fire scene after six or seven hours but got back to the station and continued to have problems with burning skin, a rash and headaches. Sherman and two others from his department were admitted Tuesday and sent home the next day.

Now, all are home just a little worse for wear and needing a little rest, Sherman said. Several other firefighters from across the county at least sought some medical attention.

Perry Township Chief Dewey Derifield said he had heard some firefighters had some problems, but did not know of any confirmation of any hazardous chemicals.

&#8221As far as I know, there was no haz-mat incident,“ Derifield said. &#8221I have heard no official report of hazardous chemicals that would have affected anyone.“

Just speculating, Derifield said the burns may be attributed to heat from the fire, sun burn and possible reaction from materials in the roofing.

Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon agreed that there could have been something in the smoke from the blaze but had not seen anything to confirm that.

&#8221Some of our guys up there did suffer rashes and burns around their face and mask area where there would be exposed skin,“ Runyon said, adding that the problems may have come from exposure to the heat and the gases from the fire. &#8221None of our guys were sent to the hospital.“