(WSYR-TV) — Nearly 80 years ago, the fine people of Lakeland woke up to a white sludgy tidal wave covering their property. A retaining wall at the Solvay Process Company broke releasing what the Syracuse Herald-Journal called “white lava.”

The toxic sludge destroyed vegetation forced people to be saved from their homes. In all, it was estimated that nearly 40,000 gallons of this toxic sludge covered nearly 85 acres of the fairgrounds, including the U.S. Army Depot, and surrounding locales, causing millions of dollars in damage. It killed all the vegetation it came in contact with. The clean-up took nearly a year. An entire piping system had to be built to transport the sludge back into the reservoirs.

Bob Searing of the Onondaga Historical Association joined the show Wednesday to discuss their crazy event from November of 1943.

You can learn more of Central New York’s rich history at CNYHistory.org.