Wrong button: Chemical dump causes mini explosion at BJ’s gas station in Sanford

4 patients transported with non-life-threatening injuries, crews say

Chemicals dumped near fuel pumps caused a mini explosion at a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Sanford on Tuesday, according to the Seminole County Fire Department.

SANFORD, Fla. – Chemicals dumped near fuel pumps caused a mini explosion at a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Sanford on Tuesday, according to the Seminole County Fire Department.

Fire officials told News 6 a third-party company was working on something at BJ’s. According to the fire department, someone pressed a wrong button and trigged the fire suppression system.

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The system expelled approximately 560 gallons of dry chemical — a type of powder used to subdue flames — near the fuel pumps, fire officials said.

Crews helped get powder off six customers who had been getting fuel from the gas station, the fire department stated.

According to the fire department, the powder can cause eye irritation or respiratory issues.

Crews said four patients were taken to the hospital, and another two were evaluated after some individuals cited difficulty breathing. No life-threatening injuries were reported, the department said.

Sylvia Maldonado was one of the patients taken to the hospital after the explosion. She told News 6 that people “were going crazy” because they didn’t know what was going on.

“I have COPD, asthma, and I’m in cancer remission, so that was a major concern to the firefighters,” Maldonado said.

Her son, Edwin Maldonado, said he ducked down and held his breath as the powder came down.

“It was like, ‘Boom, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop...’” he said. “It went straight down across the gas station.”

The fire has since been extinguished, and a waste management company arrived to clean up the powder, officials said.

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About the Authors:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.