Omaha, Nebraska – Omaha firefighters were called to Hiland Dairy on Cuming Street due to a hazardous materials situation. Around 6 p.m. on Sunday, employees noticed a strong, unpleasant smell and wisely decided to evacuate the building as a safety measure.
Upon investigation, the Omaha Fire Department (OFD) identified the source of the problem: a leak of anhydrous ammonia, which is used as a refrigerant at Hiland. This chemical can be very harmful in large quantities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that ammonia, particularly in its concentrated form, can damage tissues when it comes into contact with them.
Firefighters, equipped and trained to handle hazardous materials, entered the building and detected elevated levels of gas. As a precaution, they shut down several nearby streets to ensure public safety.
Working diligently, OFD crews collaborated with Hiland Dairy employees to control and secure the leak. Initially, there was concern about the anhydrous ammonia gas spreading outside the building. Fortunately, no such readings were found outside, and, importantly, there were no reported injuries from this incident.
The firefighters took additional steps to make the environment safe by ventilating the building with fans. Once they confirmed that there were no more traces of the hazardous gas, they prepared to hand the building back to the Hiland Dairy employees. By 10 p.m., the firefighters had cleared the scene. The responsibility now lies with Hiland Dairy to identify the exact source of the leak and carry out the necessary repairs.