Chlorine hustle goes up in smoke

A U-Haul carrying about 600 pounds of dry chlorine caught fire in Signal Hill, California, prompting the evacuation of a nearby Costco.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the scene and had the fire out within two hours, according to reports.

County fire spokeswoman Charisma Murillo said that no injuries were reported, although authorities closed off nearby streets and evacuated the area, including the Costco “out of an abundance of caution.”

Video and eye-witnesses described heavy smoke billowing out of the back of the truck.

“It was just a huge amount of smoke. It went on for blocks and blocks,” said Casey Carver, a Long Beach Resident.

L.A. County Fire wrote in an online statement, 'Throughout the incident, we have monitored the air in the parking lot and surrounding areas. We have detected no harmful particles other than the ordinary products of combustion.'

The U-haul was in the possession of Zachary Duchin, who was not driving the vehicle at the time.

Photo credit: CBS LA

“I was in Costco, and I had a lot of pool supplies, chlorine in my truck, and one of the workers came in and knocked on my back and said, ‘Your car’s on fire,'” Duchin said.

Duchin said he flew from Oakland to Southern California to purchase all the dry chlorine he could find.

Due to the nationwide shortage, he said his plan was to buy the chlorine, put it in the truck and resell it for more than double on Amazon.

He said he never expected his plans to go up in smoke. “I did not know I was going to carry a bomb. Luckily I was inside [Costco] and not inside the car.” Duchin estimated it was an expensive loss.

“There’s probably like $30 grand of chlorine in there that’s now gone,” Duchin said.