Fire Takes Toll On Volunteers In Portland; Three Receive Narcan

First responders are pictured Wednesday afternoon on Webster Road in the town of Portland. Photo by Dan Kohler

Ten firefighters were transported to the hospital, three of whom were administered naloxone, after becoming ill while at the scene of a house fire Wednesday afternoon on Webster Road in the town of Portland.

All of the first responders have since been released and are recovering at home, Portland Fire Chief David McIntyre said.

In his decades of fire service, McIntyre said he’s never come across a situation in which so many firefighters have been stricken with illness at one time. He said there are “rumors and guesses” as to what the firefighters were exposed to while battling the remnants of the blaze, but nothing has been made official.

Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone on Wednesday confirmed several firefighters had been “overcome with fumes” while at the scene. The firefighters were transported to hospitals in Westfield and Dunkirk.

Firefighters were alerted to smoke inside a home at 6842 Webster Road around 2:50 p.m. Wednesday. The first official on scene noted heavy, black smoke coming from the home, and shortly after reported the property engulfed in flames.

By 4 p.m., the bulk of the fire had been knocked down and the local chapter of the American Red Cross had been called.

It was around 4:30 p.m. when a bevy of ambulances were requested to the scene after several firefighters became ill.

“Three had to be given Narcan,” said McIntyre, referring to the opioid-overdose antidote. “A total of 10 were transported to the hospital.”

He added, “The house was totally destroyed. … We have no idea where anything was inside or what may have been in there.”

Firefighters from Portland, Fredonia, Westfield, Brocton and Stockton responded, as did Chautauqua County EMS. County fire investigators were later requested.

The Portland Fire Department on Thursday released the following statement on Facebook:

“The Portland Fire Department would like to thank all of our Brothers and Sisters that assisted us last evening at our Webster Road Fire. At this time, we have been in contact with the departments that had members sent to area hospitals and we are grateful to report that everyone is now home and being closely monitored. We would like to thank the community for reaching out to us during this difficult time.”

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.


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