HAZMAT situation causes Cromwell hotel to be evacuated - WFSB 3 Connecticut

HAZMAT situation causes Cromwell hotel to be evacuated

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Guests have been allowed back inside a Cromwell hotel Monday afternoon after a chemical accident forced hundreds inside to evacuate for most of the day.

Fire officials as well as members of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were called to the Crowne Plaza Monday morning to investigate the incident, which was reported when two employees mixed chemicals and started to have trouble breathing.

Emergency officials said acid was mixed with chlorine compound in a 10-gallon bucket near the pool and it reacted, sending chemicals into the air throughout the hotel.

"It basically put out a chlorine cloud," said Capt. Edwin Kosinski, of the Cromwell Police Department. "It got into the ventilation system and spread throughout the hotel."

Once the gas spread, everyone needed to get out.

"It's an acid based reaction, which generated a lot of heat and at this point, we have an acid gas up in the atmosphere of the building and we're trying to quench that reaction to make the atmosphere safe," said Jeff Chandler, of DEEP.

Four people were brought to Middlesex Hospital as a precaution, and hundreds inside for the Rotary Club Breakfast and a neighboring seminar lined up to leave the parking lot.

"I went by the pool, nearby, and I couldn't believe how strong the smell of chlorine was," said Joe Legge, who was attending a seminar Monday morning.

DEEP officials said the gas never got to lethal levels, however it is at five times the amount that the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends for humans, so they had to get everyone out while it was being safely cleaned up.

But for families actually staying at the hotel, leaving isn't so easy.

"We were going to leave as soon as we woke up," Tiffany LaCrasse said.

LaCrasse, her husband and their three children were headed back to Philadelphia on Monday morning.

"By the time, we get all of our stuff out of there and we head back home, we're going to end up in heavy traffic," LaCrasse said. "We're probably going to have to stay another night."

After seven hours, people were able to enter the hotel again.

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