Poisoned Rhode Island Firefighters Investigation Underway

Federal investigators tried to find the source of the Cyanide that made several firefighters sick


A poison investigation is underway after several Providence firefighters are exposed to toxic fumes while battling three separate fires back in March. Many of the victims were treated at area hospitals after being exposed to Cyanide gas. Now, members of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are in Providence investigating.

Only Eyewitness News was there as federal investigators tried to find the source of the Cyanide that made several firefighters sick. The feds interviewed some firefighters affected at the Atwells Avenue fire station. Eyewitness News also had the chance to talk to some of those firefighters.

More than a month after the fire at Al-Fagun Restaurant in South Providence, a team from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health joined the Providence Firefighter's own task force, combing the scene, looking for answers.

"We're trying to figure out where the Cyanide came from," says Department Assistant Chief Varone of the Providence Fire Department.

"We're trying to understand exactly what the problem is. Is there more Cyanide than we thought was present? Or was this just an unusual case?" adds Captain Brian Jackvony.

Lieutenant Ken Prew and Captain Brian Jackvony of Ladder 6 both responded to the scene where firefighter Kenneth Baker collapsed from a heart attack. Baker and two other firefighters had Cyanide levels so high, they needed a chemical antidote. Prew and Jackvony had lower levels, but say it is still a cause for concern.

"We really need to protect ourselves to ensure this type of situation doesn't occur again," says Jackvony.

Chief Varone agrees, "One of the solutions may be better instrumentations, they do make Cyanide detectors, that may be one of the solutions for us."

The investigators will be working on solutions over the next few days. We should tell you Baker is still in the hospital. All other firefighters affected by the Cyanide are now back at work.

Related: Growing Cyanide Threat at Fires Gains National Attention