An area in north Lubbock was evacuated Wednesday night in response to a chemical leak at Bayer CropScience at 103 Erskine near Interstate 27.
Around 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, employees at Bayer CropScience detected a leak from a faulty valve on a tank of hydrogen chloride gas and contacted authorities.
The Lubbock Fire Department established an isolation zone around the leak and began a small neighborhood evacuation.
Around midnight, changing weather conditions forced them to expand the isolation zone from Erskine crossing over I-27 south to Marsha Sharp near Avenue L, then back east to Mackenzie Parkway and back north to Erskine. Cars were allowed to travel down I-27 but Erskine remained closed.
Approximately 20 homes were in the mandatory evacuation area and another 100 were within the voluntary evacuation area. Residents were warned by Reverse 911 calls and Lubbock police went door to door, conducting the evacuation. They drove up and down the roads with lights and sirens engaged to wake up any remaining people.
Residents found shelter with family members or scrambled to find hotel rooms, while the Salvation Army and Red Cross worked together to shelter displaced families at 1111 16th Street.
Businesses on Municipal Hill, Guadalupe Elementary School and the Guadalupe Early Learning Center closed down Thursday because of their proximity to the leak.
According to LFD, "The chemical leaking is Anhydrous Hydrochloric Acid and is very dangerous if contacted or inhaled. We are using computer simulation software to predict where the cloud may spread based on predicted and current weather conditions."
Fire officials emphasized that anyone outside the isolation zone should not be affected by this leak and should not be concerned for their safety.
Around 4 p.m. Thursday, Lubbock fire chief Robert Loveless held a press conference and stated that residents who had evacuated the area due to the leak were able to return to their homes.
Loveless said the process of transferring the gas safely out of the leaky valve is ongoing and could take up to two additional days.
Official announcements are being posted to the Lubbock Fire Department Facebook page available here.
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