FAIRFIELD, Conn. - The victim of Monday night's possible potassium cyanide poisoning left notes in the house telling first responders about the chemicals used in what police are calling an "untimely death," the Fairfield Fire Department said.
Police were alerted to the potentially dangerous situation shortly before 6 p.m. Monday after a person went to police headquarters and asked for a welfare check to be done on a friend at 32 Clinton St. Officers found the house locked and called for fire assistance, police said. The resident, a 70-year-old man, had not been seen by friends since Friday, April 11.
After police and fire officials arrived at the home, Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said they were alerted to a potentially hazardous situation by "notes placed inside the home there to alert first responders" so they could avoid becoming seriously hurt by the victim's chemicals.
"We had to force entry to find the decedent," Deputy Police Chief Chris Lyddy said.
Despite the warnings, the four initial responders -- two firefighters and two police officers -- were sent to the hospital for evaluation as a precaution. By 8 p.m., they had been cleared by medical personnel and returned to the scene as Hazmat crews worked to clear the area.
"The contamination was limited to a small plate to house the chemicals inside the house," Gomola said. He said they found two 8- to 10-ounce bottles next to the victim's bed. The substance tested positive for potassium cyanide in two on site tests. It is unclear whether the victim drank the mixture of chemicals, he said.
Exposure to potassium cyanide can be rapidly fatal, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. It can be released into the air or be used to contaminate water or food, the CDC said.
The police were investigating the situation as a possible suicide, Lyddy said. Until the fire and hazardous materials teams have cleared the scene, police cannot investigate more closely, he said. Police are calling it an untimely death, Lyddy said.
The area around Clinton Street, from South Benson Road to Oyster Road near Jennings Beach, was slated to be closed until at least 11 p.m. Monday as Hazmat crews continued to work.