Volunteers go the distance in investigation

McCUTCHENVILLE – Personnel from eight fire departments staged an around-the-clock operation in response to the gasoline leak in McCutchenville that was noticed Wednesday.

Dean Henry, Seneca County’s public information officer, said the volunteers were the heroes of the incident. They missed work and family time, he said.

“They are not seeing a nickel in their pocket for this,” he said.

Personnel from Bascom, Fostoria, NBS, Pitt Township, Sycamore, Tiffin and Upper Sandusky fire departments assisted

McCutchenville Volunteer Fire Department.

“It’s just amazing how so many people can come together to accomplish … mitigating this type of situation,” said BJ Ford, chief of McCutchenville Volunteer Fire Department.

The incident started Wednesday afternoon and continued until Thursday evening, when residents were able to return to their homes. Several hours later, another odor was detected, and the command center was reactivated.

The firefighters rotated in and out of operations instead of all showing up at one time and waiting while others did work. It allowed some people to go work and sleep and avoided a lot of boring downtime, Henry said.

Ford and Chief Bill Ennis of Tiffin Fire Rescue Division set up the rotation and shared incident command responsibilities. Ford served as incident commander and turned over the role to Ennis Thursday afternoon so he could sleep.

When Ford took back over the role, Ennis took over as operations commander. Chief Keith Loreno of Fostoria Fire Division assumed the role of hazardous materials commander.

At least 60 firefighters assisted over the course of several days, and others reported to the command center to make food.

Others who responded included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio EPA, Bascom EMS, Sycamore EMS, Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Seneca County EMA, Wyandot County EMA, Seneca County General Health District, State Fire Marshal’s Office’s Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations and the Hancock County chapter of the American Red Cross.

Three U.S. EPA-approved agencies also responded to the scene.

Henry said Environmental Reclamation Services was doing excavation and remediation work, Weston Solutions was conducting air monitoring and overseeing water sampling, and BJAAM Environmental was sampling water.

The water sampling operation involved looking for components of gasoline, he said.

“As of now, (there is) no indication of water contamination,” he said Friday evening. “That does not mean it isn’t (contaminated).”

Henry said the U.S. EPA contractors could be in the village for several weeks and could return.