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June 24, 2022
Monday, January 24, 2022 1:00 a.m.
WINONA LAKE – The hazardous material that prompted the evacuation of the Dr. Dane A. Miller Science Complex at Grace College on Friday has been identified as p-cresol, according to Fire Department public information officer Mike Cox of Winona Lake, Sunday.
According to information found through a Google search, p-cresol is an organic compound. A colorless solid, with a tar-like odor, it is used as an intermediate in the production of other chemicals.
At approximately 6:54 p.m. Friday, the Winona Lake Fire Department was dispatched to a reported hazardous materials situation at the Miller building. Lutheran Kosciusko EMS was also dispatched, according to a press release provided Saturday by Cox. Winona Lake fire units were on the scene within 4 minutes and requested a response from the Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire Territory and the Elkhart City Fire Department HAZMAT team.
“The City of Elkhart HAZMAT team has the expertise and the suits. It just takes them a while to get here,” Cox said Sunday.
The hazardous material was described as deadly poisonous inhalant gas from a chemical leak, the press release said. Due to the likely duration of stabilization, situation management and investigation, the Plain Township/Leesburg Fire Department has been requested to be on standby for the Warsaw-Wayne fire at Warsaw Station 1 and the Pierceton Fire Department was asked to stand by for Lake Winona. Fire at Winona Lake station.
Titus fans from Warsaw and Silver Lake were also in demand. Cox said the ventilators were not used. “They were there just in case the building was blown up, but we relied more on the building-integrated cleaning system. That’s what it’s designed for,” he said.
Preliminary information was that a chemical leak had occurred at a third-floor lab earlier today and that some people who had been in the lab reported experiencing symptoms that may have been caused by the chemical. toxic. There were 18 people in the lab and they had since left their homes or dormitories, the statement said. Grace College administrative staff contacted them to return, along with about 46 other people who were in the building at the time of the leak. The groups were separated upon their return to the scene based on where they were in the building and they were checked and monitored by EMS personnel. Grace College provided buses to house students and staff who were in the building, while those in the lab were monitored in ambulances, the news release said.
Cox said they were very lucky with the situation. Only one person was taken to hospital and it was done more as a precaution. There was no indication that there were any other issues.
“With about 60 people in the building, it was quite an achievement, we didn’t have much more of a problem,” Cox said.
He said nothing like this ever happens quickly.
“Everyone was isolated, the building was emptied. Maintenance has filters to take care of situations like this and they clean them for next time,” Cox said.
The Elkhart Fire HAZMAT team checked the building and found no indication of any remaining toxic materials or inhalants. The last units cleared the scene around 9:22 p.m., the statement said.
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