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Households evacuated due to ammonia leak

Four or five households were evacuated Saturday, Oct. 8, for about three and a half hours when an attempted theft of liquid ammonia caused a hazardous situation.

Yakima County Fire District #5 was dispatched at 2:59 a.m. after receiving a report of an ammonia leak at a winery storage facility at 180 US Grape Road, off Emerald Road south of Sunnyside. Once on the scene and operating under their mutual aid agreement, Captain Paul Filicetti of the Sunnyside Fire Department requested his department to send its ammonia response team and additional personnel.

Leakage at the facility occurred when someone attempted to steal liquid ammonia from an ammonia receiver on the outside of a mechanical room on the storage facility.

The response team took immediate action to cover the leaking ammonia hose and close a valve under the tank.

Property owner, Mary Ann Bliesner, sent an ammonia engineer to the scene, who directed shut down of the compressors and other machinery to reduce the amount of ammonia that was returning to the receiver.

Clean-up and restoration was put into the hands of Bliesner, and the response team left the area at 6:23 a.m., after clearing the return of the evacuated families, who had found temporary shelter with family or friends, according to Sunnyside Fire Chief Aaron Markham.

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