A warehouse containing tons of various chemicals and dozens of gas bottles was discovered by chance by German firefighters. Two people reportedly fled the scene when firefighters arrived to put out a small fire.
German police have launched a probe after firefighters unexpectedly found 35,000 liters (9,250 gallons) of various chemicals and 50 propane bottles stashed in a warehouse in northwest Germany.
Firefighters were called to the scene in the village of Preussisch Oldendorf to put out a small electrical fire. Witnesses report seeing two people fleeing the building and speeding away in a large vehicle as the team arrived.
The firefighters managed to quickly put out the fire with no injuries reported. However, an inspection of the 650 square meter (nearly 7,000 square foot) site revealed large containers of caustic soda, sulfuric, phosphoric, and formic acid,as well as highly flammable propane gas and other substances that have not yet been identified.
Police said they had secured the building.
"It is closed and under police surveillance," a police spokesman was quoted as saying by the DPA news agency.
Burnt car found
Authorities were trying to track down people who had been storing the chemicals at this location. The building's owner had rented out the warehouse to a person who then sublet the space without informing the owner. The deal to sublet was made verbally several weeks ago, according to police.
There was no danger to the public, officials said.
Police said they were investigating "in all directions," according to a press release. A burnt car was discovered near a cornfield several kilometers away from the warehouse, but it was not clear if the vehicle was connected to the two people who had reportedly fled the site.
Expert teams were due to clear out the chemicals on Monday.