Hazmat teams with the Riverside County Fire Department were working to clear an unknown, caustic substance at a container recycling center in Jurupa Valley Friday morning.
Calls for a medical emergency came in around 10:15 a.m. at the center on the 2200 block of Via Cerro.
When first responders arrived, they found one person on the ground and were informed that the situation was a hazardous materials spill within the building.
The patient was brought outside and transported to the hospital, according to Riverside County Fire Battalion Chief Andrew Kibby. Six other people then exited the building and were also taken to the hospital in unknown condition.
“We transported two firefighters for cautionary reasons because they did make entry into the facility,” a Kibby told KTLA. He added that both firefighters were treated and have since been released from the hospital.
When hazmat teams made entry into the recycling center, they found a substance in the bottom of a container that tested positive for an unknown caustic material, which, according to Kibby, can cause respiratory issues if inhaled.
“It probably off-gassed as they opened it up and the gentleman was standing right there. So, he probably then inhaled, and then as the other employees came around, they took an inhalation of it,” Kibby said. “It was just off-gassing when they opened it up.”
Off-gassing is the airborne release of a gas that has been trapped or dissolved in some material.
While others inside the building evacuated, a triage center was set up. Victims going to the hospital had to be hosed off before being transported.
The recycling facility is located in an industrial area, surrounded by other warehouses, near Via Cerro and Via Ricardo, portions of which were shut down for hours while crews cleaned up.
“There is no threat to the public. The incident has been mitigated,” Kibby said. “It’s 100% contained with in the business and there is no worry of any exposure or any more release out of the building.”