After residents in part of Berks County, PA, had returned home after being evacuated Sunday night due to a HazMat incident at a chemical plant, they were forced to evacuate again when there was a three-alarm fire at the facility.
The reason for the first evacuation was nitric acid was leaking from a wall of Bulk Chemicals on Mohrsville Road in Perry Township, fire officials said.
The leak was reported around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and nearby residents were told to close all windows and doors and stay inside, officials said.
Residents reported a chaotic scene, as several fire departments and HazMat crews responded to the scene.
Around 10 p.m., firefighters and HazMat crews decided to evacuate homes within a quarter-mile of the facility, said Chief Rusty Wagner, Shoemakersville Fire Company.
Crews came in with Level 1 HazMat suits and worked overnight to clean up the spill. Residents were allowed to return home shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, officials said.
John Repetz, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, said 4,500 gallons of nitric acid leaked from a tank. It was unclear how much, if any, of the chemical made its way into storm drains and the Schuylkill River, which parallels Mohrsville Road about 100 yards to the south.
HazMat crews recovered about 2,000 gallons of nitric acid, Wagner said. The spill was contained to the property.
Nitric acid is a colorless and highly corrosive industrial chemical used in the manufacturing of fertilizers and explosives. It is toxic and can cause severe burns.
A cleanup team worked Monday morning to neutralize the area.
Later on Monday, there was a three-alarm electrical fire at Bulk Chemical that prompted the evacuation of residences near the facility in the 800 block of Mohrsville Road in Perry Township, the second time in 12 hours residents were forced from their homes.
The fire inside the building at 809 Mohrsville Road was reported 11 a.m. Monday and quickly went to three alarms.
There were no injuries in either incident.