HOUSTON - Two men were found dead inside a tank truck at a Houston high school, according to the Houston Fire Department.
HFD said the two men were found Monday morning inside a large hydroseeding spreader truck that was parked on the track at Wisdom High School in southwest Houston.
Firefighters initially responded to an extraction call.
According to HFD, the first man opened the tank, was overcome by fumes and collapsed into the tank truck, which spreads grass seed and fertilizer.
The second man tried to help the first man, but he also was overcome by fumes and collapsed, HFD said.
The men were identified as John Satterwhite and Jerry Mantooth, according to authorities.
HFD said a third man called 911.
Satterwhite and Mantooth's bodies were recovered Monday afternoon.
Hazmat crews monitored the tank for toxic fumes. The air quality was reported clear by Hazmat and the scene was cleared about 1 p.m.
According to HFD Assistant Chief Michael Mire, they will run several more tests, but preliminary results lead them to believe the substance may be an organophosphate commonly used in fertilizer.
“The concentration ... it was extremely dangerous. If you are within a few feet of the opening, you could easily become overwhelmed by the fumes and it appears that it has happened here,” Mire said.
According to Mire, the confined space inside the tanker truck, coupled with the heat and chemicals, presented several challenges during the recovery phase.
“It's still a very dangerous environment. They had to get dressed in special suits and breathing equipment and go into an enclosed environment with noxious fumes.”
Houston Independent School District police are handling the investigation and said they are not sure of the chemicals inside the tank.
Houston police said the preliminary investigation indicates the deaths appeared to be accidental.
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