MADISON — Emergency crews responding to one call for possibly hazardous materials sitting on a town road found something they feared could be a lot more dangerous when they arrived Wednesday night, prompting a warning to nearby residents.

They found a 15-gallon barrel labeled “acid” in a ditch on Preble Avenue.

Madison firefighters were sent to the site after a caller reported that two 5-gallon drums of hydraulic fluid were in the road, said Don French, assistant fire chief at the Madison Fire Department. Hydraulic fluid, a liquid such as brake fluid, is used to make machinery function.

At the scene, French said his attention was drawn to a large, white container in a ditch at the side of the road.

“Once I got near it, I noticed the word ‘acid’ on the side, and I determined it wasn’t something we would deal with as a fire department,” said French. Acid can cause severe and even deadly burns.

The Skowhegan Fire Department and the hazardous materials team from Sappi Fine Paper also responded.


Tests performed by the state Department of Environmental Protection for the presence of acid were negative. DEP took the barrel to its headquarters in Augusta and is examining the contents, according to Jessamine Logan, DEP communications director.

There was no spill and no smell associated with the barrel, she said.

Area residents were notified, but there appeared to be no immediate threat to public safety, officials said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368 |

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