Sunday, February 5, 2012

When is chocolate a hazardous material?

When it melts in mass quantities, like it did early Friday morning at Sarris Candies in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania (videos here, photos here). "The amount of chocolate that had melted and was on the floor -- it was hard to move around in there. We had guys covered in chocolate. Hazmat was called in to help scrub it off," said fire chief Tom Lawrence. Owner Bill Sarris would normally have been at work when his employees smelled smoke and saw flames in the ceiling. When he rushed to the scene, worker Kevin Wittik had evacuated the rest of the staff and called 911. Responding to the 2-alarm call, firefighters tried not to slip and fall in the slippery substance as they navigated the local landmark building, maneuvering around bins and racks of candy. The specialty chocolate and candies factory has been family-owned and operated since it was established in 1960 by Bill Sarris's dad Frank (d. 2010). Additions since then included a retail candy shop and ice cream parlor, and Sarris now employs 200 people. None of them was hurt during Friday's fire and they are all committed to getting the company back on its feet. As employee Sherri Bell says, "We're a big family. We'll get it together and we'll hook it up and make sure it all gets back together and gets running again." The building had minimal structure damage, with most of it in the packaging area, so they hope to resume chocolate production within a few days. If they aren't up and ready in time for Valentine's Day, they will surely have time to replace the significant amount of Easter candy that was lost.*

*I have shown my support by placing a small order. Yum!

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