• Residents forced inside when chemical fire leaked chlorine gas into air


    ROCHESTER, Pa. - Residents in parts of Beaver County were told to stay inside and not to open their windows when a chemical fire leaked chlorine gas into the air. 

    You can now customize your WPXI News App to receive alerts for Beaver County. CLICK HERE to find out how.

    UPDATE 6:30 p.m. Wednesday: The DEP said they will be on site for the foreseeable future as the cleanup is expected to take weeks.

    UPDATE 5:00 p.m. Monday: The Department of Environmental Protection said they will continue their round the clock presence in Beaver County through at least Wednesday. The agency said they are working to stabilize chemical by submerging them in water to prevent further chemical reactions.

    DEP officials said they will also start disposing of the chemicals, water, debris left behind after a fire released a chlorine gas cloud over the weekend.

    The DEP said there have been no additional reactions, and the plan to remove and dispose the chemicals will take weeks. Parts of the old Beaver Alkali Products facility are still not safe to go into and officials do not know the types, amounts, and compatibility of chemicals being stored there.

    UPDATE 6:23 p.m. Saturday: The Department of Enviromental Protection provided the following update: 

    At a minimum, DEP will have a 24/7 presence on the site through the weekend. Equipment and machinery are en route and DEP and its contractor are working to stabilize the substances on site to prevent further chemical reactions. Despite the lifting of the shelter in place directives, people, particularly sensitive populations in the area, may continue to notice a chlorine odor.

    UPDATE 6:01 p.m. Saturday: Neighbors tell Channel 11 they had trouble breathing inside their homes and even wore masks to keep from breathing in the chemicals.

    Residents who live on Pennsylvania Avenue live right near the building and described a massive plume of chemicals sitting over their homes.

    The cloud was so thick they couldn't see the river in front of them or the stop sign at the end of the street.

    We’ve also heard from dozens of people who say they didn’t get emergency alerts about the chemical fire and learned about the shelter-in-place order from watching the news. 

    The DEP believes there are additional chemical spills inside and contractors will be back on site Monday to resume remediation. 

    UPDATE 12:54 p.m. Saturday: Emergency officials have lifted the shelter in place order for everyone in the area in relation to the ongoing hazardous chemical fire in Rochester.

    UPDATE 11:21 a.m. Saturday: Emergency officails tell Channel 11 the shelter in place order radius has been reduced down to 1 mile around Rochester. 

    It was originally as far out as 5 miles.

    UPDATE 10:58 a.m. Saturday: We know from emergency officials early Saturday morning there was an amount of chlorine gas that was emitted into the air, and that is what also sparked the initial fire at the abandoned building in Rochester. 

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of chlorine exposure include blurred vision, burning pain, redness and blisters on the skin if exposed to gas, burning sensation in the nose, throat, and eyes, coughing, chest tightness, watery eyes and difficulty breathing among others.

    CLICK HERE for more from the CDC about chlorine exposure.

    UPDATE 10:35 a.m. Saturday: Emergency officials tell Channel 11 the shelter order was issued after the fire rekindled and there was another hazardous gas emission from the scene in Rochester.

    The Beaver pool is closed until further notice.

    Also Beaver County Transit will not be running in the area Saturday.

    UPDATE 10:15 a.m. Saturday: Here is a map showing the 5 mile radius from the fire scene. People within this radius are ordered to stay inside:

    This includes:

    • Rochester
    • East Rochester
    • Beaver
    • Bridgewater
    • Freedom
    • Conway
    • Economy
    • Monaca
    • Vanport
    • Fallston
    • New Brighton
    • Patterson Heights
    • Patterson Township
    • Oak Hill
    • Beaver Falls
    • Eastvale
    • Bradys Run Park
    • New Sewickley Township
    • Daugherty Township
    • North Sewickley Township
    • Parts of Center Township
    • And other places in between

    UPDATE 9:54 a.m. Saturday: 911 officials confirm the shelter in place order is back on. Emergency crews are preparing to shut down Rt. 65 due to the fire rekindling. Emergency officials urge people to stay inside and keep windows and doors closed. The Monaca Rochester Bridge is also closed.

    UPDATE 9:35 a.m. Saturday: Fire officials tell Channel 11 the fire at the abandoned facility has rekindled. There are no warnings issued, but there is a large amount of smoke in the area. Emergency crews said nearby bridges were being shut down again.

    ORIGINAL STORY: A shelter in place was lifted for people in Rochester after a chemical release that turned into a fire Friday night.

    According to the chief of the Rochester Fire Department, the fire was out by 6 a.m. Saturday at the old Beaver Alkali Products facillity.

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    Fire officials said air quality monitors are not reporting any issues. However, emergency officials say the smell will continue to linger for a while longer. The air is safe to breathe, but officials urge limiting your time outdoors because of the smell, adding it can cause a burning sensation in your eyes. Authorities say it is safe to leave your home if needed.

    The Department of Environmental Protection said the building had been abandoned for about 10 years and there was an emergency demolition last week the agency was handling. 

    It appears there was a roof collapse at what was an old pool shop that was full of chemicals. That's why there was chlorine in the building.

    The DEP said a contractor left the building Friday evening, and fire crews were called at about 9 p.m. after a chemical reaction sparked that fire.

    During the fire, emergency officials urged anyone with breathing issues or asthma to stay indoors.

    According to the Monaca Fire Department, recent readings show that poor air quality is only in the immediate area of the fire.

    Route 65 was still closed because of this early Saturday.



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