Fire crews respond to laboratory fire

(WMC-TV) - Smoke could be seen for miles on Thursday after a fire started inside a laboratory housing dangerous chemicals.

Mid Continental Laboratories has been in Memphis for 35 years. Thursday afternoon, the building they have occupied for about 20 of those years went up in smoke creating a potential danger to employee and firefighters.

As the massive plume of smoke billowed over the 1200 block of Jackson Avenue, Memphis firefighters knew they heading toward a potentially dangerous battle.

"The company was notified in response that hazardous materials were present we just didn't know where they were," said Deputy Chief Carl Peyton.

Inside the building, radioactive material used to make gauges that measure radioactivity were stored.

"We've determined that there was some radioactive material that burned up," said Peyton.

Loved ones comforted Carol Britton, who just watched her husband's business go up in smoke.

Nine employees on staff were safely evacuated from the lab, which tests construction materials.

"We go out on a job, mostly commercial buildings, and test the soil before the building is erected.

Because of the small amount of radioactive material involved, investigators saw no need to evacuate nearby neighbors. If there were higher quantities of the hazardous materials, it would have been a different story.

Britton says she is not certain whether the family will rebuild the business.

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