5 workers hospitalized after sulfur fire at Port Manatee

(Source: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)

PALMETTO, Fla. (WFLA) – For the second time in a few weeks, a fire broke out at a facility that processes sulfur into fertilizer and other products. Five workers were injured, but no residents suffered injures.

What’s to say this won’t happen again?

On Wednesday night, a fire broke out at this sulfur storage area at Port Manatee, emitting dangerous toxic fumes.

Just ten days ago, firefighters responded to the area. Sulfur is a potentially dangerous chemical, which leaves many concerned.

“You would think that somebody who went to college would kind of figure out that that’s a dangerous thing and put some measures in,” said John Mollaghan, who frequents the area.

The storage facility is operated by a company called Logistec Gulf Coast.

Sulfur is used to create fertilizer. If the dust catches fire, it can create a toxic gas that can be deadly.

“Last night, what happened was a freakish accident,” said Frank Vannelli, with Logistec.

This single facility has seen two accidents in less than two weeks.

Vannelli said the Wednesday fire was caused when a sweeping device accidentally brushed against metal, making a spark and lighting the sulfur dust on fire.

The fire on April 17th was caused when a truck accidentally entered the wrong area, and the heat from the tires ignited a blaze.

The facility has since been shut down until an irrigation system can be installed.

“The public has nothing to be alarmed about, corrective actions are being taken and we will work closely with the local authorities, and we will not reopen until that has been handled,” said Vannelli.

There were five employees who were taken to hospital because of the harmful fumes. The injuries were not life-threatening.

They emphasize these were unexpected accidents, but they expect the sprinkler and new measures in place will prevent this from happening again.

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