An ammonia leak kept emergency crews busy Wednesday morning and into the afternoon.
The leak occurred from a cylinder in the newly opened Westhills Arena at City Centre Park. It was discovered around 8 a.m.
“Ammonia is common for cooling arenas,” said Scott Davidson, assistant fire chief, Langford Fire Rescue.
Witnesses saw a large cloud of ammonia hovering over City Centre Park shortly after the leak was detected.
“The cloud was emitting from the left-hand side of the building,” Davidson said.
Businesses in the area were evacuated as well as some residents on Jenkins Avenue.
“We are asking that people stay away from the area,” said West Shore RCMP Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz while manning a road block on Langford Parkway.
West Shore RCMP, several fire departments, Capital Regional District Hazmat team and BC Ambulance were on scene.
All roads and pathways leading to City Centre Park were blocked off until shortly before 11:30 a.m.
The arena and other facilities were deemed safe and reopened around 2 p.m.
“Basically it’s self-mitigating. The hazmat team needed to make an entrance to stop the leak first,” Davidson said adding that after the leak was stopped they worked on increasing the ventilation of the building.
A comfort centre was set up by Langford Emergency Support Services at the Langford Legion. Nearly 40 evacuated people took refuge at the centre.
“We were set up 45 minutes from the call out and staffed by seven people,” Tom Burchill, director of Langford ESS.
The cause of the leak is still unknown. When the leak was discovered refrigeration contractors were on site, but it is not clear if they were working on the cylinder or not, Davidson said.
No injuries have been reported, but anyone showing any signs of ammonia exposure is asked to seek medical assistance, said Rochlitz.
“Ammonia can cause serious health problems,” said Rochlitz explaining symptoms of exposure include burning eyes and difficulty breathing.