HILLSBORO -- Seventeen employees of a Hillsboro manufacturing company were taken to area hospitals after being exposed to lead acid fumes Monday morning.

When the Hillsboro fire department showed up just before 8 a.m., 50 to 60 employees of Cascade Systems Technology had evacuated outside. The contract company makes circuit boards and other computer hardware.

The Hillsboro Fire Department said everyone was getting into work, when people suddenly started complaining of burning throats, eyes and breathing problems.

They quickly put on masks and started flushing their eyes, but 17 employees they were taken to three different hospitals to get checked out for acid fumes. Another employee drove himself to a personal doctor before firefighters arrived.

Employees knew what had caused it, and firefighters wheeled a cart of large, lead acid batteries outside to air out.

They had been exposed to some lead acid battery fumes, HIllsboro Fire Dept. spokesman Storm Smith said. Apparently this was caused by an overcharging incident over the weekend. The lead acid batteries were placed on a charge on a timer and apparently the timer either didn't shut off or the batteries failed and overheated, and off-gased some of the sulferic acid.

The company declined to comment on the incident. A Hillsboro fire station is right down the street, and with all the different industrial companies in the immediate area, Smith said they train for all kinds hazmat situations like these.

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