Leaking carbon dioxide at a fire protection systems plant in Ashland, Massachusetts, prompted authorities to evacuate surrounding homes Tuesday evening, local media report.
“At this time houses on Columbus Avenue, Brook Street and Leland Avenue have been evacuated as a precaution,” the Ashland Fire Department Facebook page reports.
The evacuation order, issued at about 7:30 p.m., followed an explosion at the Kidde-Fenwal plant, makers of fire protection and ignition/temperature control products. The blast ruptured a CO2 storage system that began leaking uncontrollably to the atmosphere.
As of 9:30 p.m., firefighters and a hazmat team from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services were allowing the tank to continue venting until empty.
The leak does not represent a threat to the community, firefighters said. Exposure to CO2 can cause headache, dizziness, difficulty breathing, tremors, confusion and ringing in the ears.
Higher exposure can cause convulsions, coma, and death.