Dangerous Vapor Cloud In Broken Arrow

Sunday, March 25th 2007, 4:57 pm
By: News On 6

A small chemical release prompts the evacuation of a Broken Arrow neighborhood Sunday afternoon. Firefighters say several containers of swimming pool chemicals were leaking in a man's garage, and when they mixed, it created a potentially dangerous chemical cloud.

The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports the toxic cloud did not injure anyone, but firefighters say they see this all the time, and are encouraging homeowners to keep a close eye on their household chemicals.

Just one box of pool chemicals, not unlike those found in garages throughout Green Country, caused big problems on Sunday. Residents of a Broken Arrow home in the 1500 block of South Fir Place told authorities, a chlorine container leaked, mixed with other chemicals and produced a dangerous vapor cloud.

"We didn't actually mix them together, they were just sitting out in a stored container, and it started reacting," said the homeowner’s son Ryan Forsythe.

After spotting the reaction, the Forsythe’s called 911. Firefighters quickly evacuated the neighbors, and a Tulsa hazmat crew sanitized the garage. Authorities say situations like Sunday’s are common because homeowners often leave too many chemicals too close to one another. Firefighters say especially this time of year, with everyone in the midst of their spring cleaning, it's very important that everyone keep a close eye on all of their household chemicals.

"People think because they buy it at Wal-Mart or wherever, that it's safe,” said Broken Arrow Battalion Fire Chief Hal Sisco. “Well it's safe in it's original container, but once it escapes and mixes with others, it can be a problem."

To avoid potentially dangerous chemical combinations, authorities recommend separating your household chemicals and exercising caution when moving them. They also say you should check containers to make sure they have not degraded over time. The Forsythe’s say they will follow that advice from now on, so they can avoid apologizing to neighbors again.

"He's got a lot of making up to do here to the neighbors, they evacuated the entire cul-de-sac," Forsythe said.

Firefighters say in addition to household chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers are also a risk for dangerous chemical reactions. Authorities tell us in this case the homeowners did the right thing by calling 911, instead of trying to handle it themselves.