SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A test of fire-suppression foam by a company near San Jose Mineta International Airport went awry Friday, filling nearby streets with the white substance, according to Santa Clara Police.
The fire department was first notified of the spill shortly before 1:30 p.m., but the incident started well before then, fire Battalion Chief Drew Miller said.
The thick white foam which resembled snow, came from Signature Flight Support, a business located right next to the airport at 323 Martin Ave. near the San Jose-Santa Clara border.
Police said the company was testing its emergency fire suppression system and something went wrong.
Video shot by Chopper 5 showed that the foam had spilled out of entrances on both ends of the Signature Flight Support building and out of the vents in the side of the building facing Martin Street. The foam was so thick that it was deep enough to cover some cars on the street and rose almost to the height of a stop sign in one spot.
A city hazardous materials team was sent to the scene with San Jose fire crews, Miller said.
Officers from San Jose and Santa Clara are also controlling traffic in the area, according to Miller.
Crews are waiting for the foam to dissipate, but that is expected to take a while given the magnitude of the spill, the chief said.
People in the area could be seen taking selfies with the foam. A few people actually rode their bicycles through the foam on the street, emerging on the other side of the foam bank covered in the substance.
While the company said the foam wasn’t toxic, they have not yet said exactly what chemicals are in the foam.
The fire department is urging people not to play in it. They say the drains have been covered up to stop the foam from entering waterways, but that with rain in the forecast they need to work quickly.
A waste operations company is expected to be involved in the extensive clean up operation, according to the police chief.
Cleanup crews were visible as of 5:30 p.m.
The roadway was taped off to the public and orange traffic cones were set up in front of the foam. The public is advised to avoid Martin Avenue east of Lafayette Boulevard.