Man sickened after opening antique bottles won in auction

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — An investigation is underway after a man was apparently exposed to chemicals Tuesday night at a storage facility in Fall River.

Robert Assad told Eyewitness News he was sickened after opening antique bottles he had won in an auction the day before.

“Burning in my hands, my throat was constricting, burning in my throat, hard time breathing, a lot of coughing,” Assad said.

According to Fall River Fire Captian Neil Furtado, Assad was already receiving medical aid when crews responded to the Quequechan Street scene around 7:30 p.m. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Furtado said when the fire chief saw the 60-year-old bottles in the unit he felt unsafe about handling them so he called in a state hazmat team.

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Some of the bottles were found to contain a form of liquid acid, which was later deemed safe, while Furtado said Assad reportedly knew others contained poisonous strychnine powder.

Assad said he was told by the auction company that the bottles contained some sort of whiskey.

It’s unclear at this time whether the company knew about the contents of the bottles, according to Furtado.

The facility’s management secured the unit and will be calling in a private hazmat company to dispose of the bottles, Furtado said. The scene was cleared just before midnight.