Ammonia leak at Reddy Ice facility in south Phoenix causes evacuations

Phoenix fire crews and other local agencies worked to secure an ammonia leak coming from an ice manufacturing facility on Oct. 15.

Residents near the Reddy Ice facility near 40th Street and Roeser were evacuated while crews secured the leak.

"Crews…are making progress receiving lower readings on their meters," Phoenix Fire said in a statement. "The responsible party has been notified and people should expect some traffic restrictions in the area for the next few hours."

The Phoenix Fire Department is now investigating the cause of the leak after it was finally secured after nearly 12 hours.

"It's not something that, like a fire hose, that we can just go put out as quickly as possible. We have to move a little slower, we have to identify what the material is that we're dealing with," explained Phoenix Fire Capt. Evan Gammage.

Just after midnight, a hazardous chemical alarm went off at the facility.

"Because of our fire inspectors and our alarm room, our crews had a great heads up about what they were walking into. We had alerts letting us know that they did have a 40,000-pound ammonia tank, and refrigeration system there for the Reddy ice system," Gammage said.

There were two employees who were inside when the system signaled a leak and they evacuated before first responders even arrived.

"We did have to evacuate approximately 140 or so people from surrounding buildings, including a Circle K and a business complex next door," he said.

It’s common for facilities that manufacture ice to have ammonia tanks on the property. Fire crews need appropriate hazmat gear and meters to detect how much of the chemical is in the air.

"It's extremely dangerous. If it comes in contact at high levels, especially in confined spaces, it can cause serious health issues and up to death," Gammage said.

There are no reported injuries. Businesses were shut down for the day.

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