Surrey Fire Service says no one was hurt after reports of a “possible ammonia leak” in Cloverdale Tuesday.
The call for Surrey RCMP to respond came in around 2:35 p.m. and the suspected leak was in the 17500-block of 65A Avenue.
David Burns, assistant chief with the Surrey Fire Service, said a business in the area reported a possible leak, and their alarms went off.
Employees then evacuated the building and when fire crews arrived, a HAZMAT team entered the building to assess the situation.
“Staff felt they shut off the affected system when they evacuated so our crews went in to ensure they did,” said Burns. “The ammonia levels were very low when crews entered.”
Burns noted the ammonia was “pretty much contained to the building.”
“When staff evacuated the building, the doors were all closed and it never escaped,” he added. “We measured outside the building and it wasn’t at a high enough level to be a concern. There were no injuries, just the evacuation of the building.”
Burns said there was no need to evacuate the area, beyond the building in question.
Crews wrapped up at the scene around 8 p.m. on Tuesday (Oct. 30).
Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko told the Now-Leader that officers were only on scene to assist the fire department and secure the area, “so people don’t run into a situation with noxious vapours or anything like that.”
Ammonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract and can result in blindness, lung damage or death. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.
In October 2017, three men died following a leak of the gas at a rink in Fernie. The case is believed to be the first fatal ammonia leak in Canada.