A strong odor in downtown New haven forced the closure of several roads, and even evacuations on Tuesday.

The smell closed city streets and parts of highways, while also forcing the evacuation of 300 George St., a building that houses a number of labs.

At first, crews thought it was a gas leak, but it turns out it wasn't natural gas. The smell was actually coming from chemicals being used inside one of the labs.

“I was working at my desk and the alarm started going off and we ran down the stairs and we could smell kind of a sulfur-y smell," said Sandra McCurdy, who works at 300 George St.

The closures involved Route 34 west at Orange Street, Crown Street, College Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Connecticut State police also said the ramps for Route 34 inbound, I-95 nb x47, I-95 sb x48, and I-91 x1 were also closed.

The smell was reported around 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday.

In addition to road closures, roughly 1,000 people were evacuated from the nine-story building at 300 George St.

“To keep ourselves busy we went to the Yale Art Gallery, we had coffee. We’re having a nice New Haven day, but we’re very anxious because we’re getting emails, we have work to do and our laptops are trapped in the building, we can’t do our work," McCurdy said.

Yale-New Haven Hospital has some administrative offices in the building, and those employees were evacuated as well. The hospital itself was not affected or evacuated.

“Investigating, metering, we found no source of natural gas. At that time we did further investigation and right now we believe it's coming from a third floor from a lab with an experiment that was being run," said New Haven Assistant Fire Chief Mark Vendetto.

As workers waited to get back inside, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection arrived to help with air monitoring.

“We’re working with the chemists on site to determine what chemicals they were using and the resulting byproducts of that reaction," said Jeff Chandler of DEEP.

While investigators on scene said there is no public health risk, those who work in the area said it definitely made for an exciting and unsettling day.

DEEP is continuing to monitor air, and the fire chief said the building should open back up later Tuesday evening or by Wednesday.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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