UNITED STATES NEWS

Evacuation order lifted after Ind. chemical fire

Sep 15, 2012, 9:15 PM

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (AP) – Hundreds of northern Indiana residents returned home Saturday after spending the night at shelters, hotels or with relatives after a chemical fire at a vacant plant that’s in the midst of a federally supervised cleanup ousted them from their homes.

Mishawaka Battalion Chief Mike Croy said the all-clear was given about 7 a.m. Saturday after air monitoring showed it was safe for residents to return home within a one-mile radius of the old Baycote factory.

The fire inside a small area of the factory in Mishawaka released a chemical vapor cloud of unknown substances over the city’s south side, prompting officials to order the precautionary evacuation, Croy said.

“They really weren’t sure what the chemical was and what effects it might have on people,” he said.

Mishawaka is about 10 miles east of South Bend.

Jack Walker, who lives about a block from the idle plant, said he didn’t hesitate to load his two dogs into his car late Friday night when officials issued an evacuation order after the fire produced a strange-smelling cloud.

“I was out in my front yard and it smelled funny _ it was a smell like I’d never smelled before,” he said Saturday afternoon, hours after he returned home. “It was a really weird smell.”

Walker, who suffers from asthma, said the aroma wafting from the plant didn’t irritate his lungs or his eyes but worried him nonetheless. He drove outside the evacuation area to his mother’s home, where he spent the night.

Croy said it isn’t clear how many people were actually evacuated, but he believes about 200 people live within the one-mile evacuation zone around the factory, an area that is a mix of industries and homes.

The Baycote complex was once an electroplating and metal finishing business, but it’s been vacant since 2008. The site is in the midst of a cleanup by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that began this spring.

EPA on-scene coordinator Paul Atkociunas said more than 50,000 gallons of liquid and solid chemicals were stored there when the cleanup started but that the bulk of the material has already been removed.

He said a cleanup crew working for the EPA put some solid “sludge-like” chemicals into a plastic-lined cardboard box Friday, and those chemicals self-combusted and caught fire about 7:15 p.m. _ hours after the workers had left the building.

Atkociunas said the white cloud produced by the fire may have contained hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide based on the chemicals that burned. He said the fire was confined to the storage container that caught fire.

He called it an “unfortunate accident” but praised local fire officials for acting quickly and alerting him and other EPA officials once the blaze was spotted.

Atkociunas said the EPA will analyze what caused the fire and reassess its approach to removing the remaining chemicals from the site.

“We’re going to be taking a look back at our procedures to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2024, in Washington...

Associated Press

Regulator proposes capping credit card late fees at $8, latest in Biden campaign against ‘junk fees’

NEW YORK (AP) — The Biden administration announced a rule Tuesday to cap all credit card late fees, the latest effort in the White House push to end what it has called “junk fees” and a move that regulators say will save Americans up to $10 billion a year. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street inches lower as retailers post holiday numbers

Wall Street pointed modestly lower Tuesday as more retailers post results from the holiday season and ahead of appearance by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell before Congress later this week. Futures for the S&P 500 slipped 0.3% and futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%. Momentum has slowed for U.S. stocks after hitting […]

7 hours ago

A San Francisco Police Department officer walks around Union Square, Friday, March 1, 2024, in San ...

Associated Press

San Francisco votes on measures to compel drug treatment and give police surveillance cameras

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Voters in San Francisco will weigh in on a pair of public safety measures on Tuesday’s ballot that reflect frustration over crime and drug use in the politically liberal city, including a proposal to compel treatment for adults using illegal drugs who receive cash welfare benefits. The other ballot measure would […]

8 hours ago

FILE - Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón speaks during a news conference Feb. 22,...

Associated Press

LA County’s progressive district attorney faces crowded field of 11 challengers in reelection bid

LOS ANGELES (AP) — One of the country’s most progressive prosecutors, who faced two recall attempts within four years, is set to be tested as he seeks reelection against 11 challengers to remain the district attorney of Los Angeles County. Tuesday’s nonpartisan primary pits incumbent George Gascón against opponents who range from line prosecutors in […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Californians to vote on measure governor says he needs to tackle homelessness crisis

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Californians are set to vote Tuesday on a statewide ballot measure that is touted by the governor as a major step to tackle homelessness and would be the first major update to the state’s mental health system in 20 years. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom says Proposition 1 is needed to tackle […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Alabama lawmakers aim to approve immunity laws for IVF providers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers, who face public pressure to get in vitro fertilization services restarted, are nearing approval of immunity legislation to shield providers from the fall out of a court ruling that equated frozen embryos to children. Committees in the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate on Tuesday will debate […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Evacuation order lifted after Ind. chemical fire