Saskatoon emergency services responded to an east-side home this morning after the resident took three bottles of what he said were potentially explosive chemicals into the back alley, but the fire department said it turned out the liquid was only water.

David Jones told CBC that he is working on a biochemistry degree and has a variety of chemicals stored in his basement at 409 Cumberland Ave. S. He had been moving a batch of chemicals he'd mixed last year to make a substance called "coloured fire," which creates a pyrotechnic effect when ignited. It's commonly used in backyard torches and glow bracelets.

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Firefighters block off the corner of 14th Street and Cumberland Avenue. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)

'Coloured fire'

The incident began just before 8 a.m. CST when Jones called 911. He had been moving a batch of chemicals he'd mixed last year to make a substance called "coloured fire," which creates a pyrotechnic effect when ignited. It's commonly used in backyard torches, or glow bracelets.

Minutes after moving the bottled chemicals, he noted an overpowering odor coming from the containers.

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David Jones said he was mixing chemicals to create coloured fire. (CBC)

"It smelled like Drano burning tinfoil," he said.

"The fact that it wouldn't dissolve in water, and started to smell funny and not right, was my hint to add water to everything I could to dissolve it again."

Jones said he knew there was a risk of explosion, so he spilled the chemicals into the back alley and called emergency services.

Response to dangerous goods

Emergency services responded in full force, with police, paramedics and the dangerous goods disposal unit. They dealt first with the chemicals in the alley and were treating it as a dangerous goods incident. No chemical residue was discovered in the containers.

"We have to assume that the products are dangerous goods, so we have to take precautions and we have to do it according to our procedures and treat every liquid, whether it's liquid or solid form, the way that we would normally do in regards to a hazmat situation," said Luc Durand, the Saskatoon Fire Department's acting assistant chief of communications.

By mid-morning, they'd moved into the house and began cataloguing and assessing the variety of chemicals stored in the basement. Nothing dangerous was found in house and emergency crews have left the scene.

Jones was surprised that the fire department said there was nothing but water in the bottles.

"That would be false," he said. "There were crystals in there when I took them out of the box used for making coloured fire."

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Firefighters responded to the home of David Jones on the corner of 14th Street and Cumberland Avenue. (Dan Zakreski/CBC)