Shelter in place lifted 2nd time for chemical fire in Beaver County
Firefighters and a hazardous materials team remained at the scene of a fire and chemical release in Rochester Saturday afternoon, but officials said it was safe for residents of the immediate area to leave their homes.
Authorities issued two “shelter in place” orders advising residents to stay in their homes following the fire that broke out Friday night at the former Beaver Alkali Products facility in Rochester. The fire was reported at about 9 p.m. Friday.
Harold McClain, who lives in Monaca directly across the Ohio River from Rochester, said a plume of smoke engulfed the borough and river valley.
“This morning I could hardly breath,” he said. “I had a headache. My throat was hurting. It was bad.”
McLaine evacuated his family to their cottage at Pymatuming Lake. He said police closed the Rochester-Monaca Bridge over the Ohio Saturday after it became shrouded with smoke.
According to Tribune-Review news partner WPXI, people within a 1-mile radius of the old Beaver Alkali Products facility were advised to stay indoors after the fire rekindled in the morning, releasing another hazardous gas emission from the scene.
Residents within a 1 mile radius of Rochester Borough are asked to shelter in place and stay indoors due to a hazardous materials fire near the old Beaver Valley Bowl. This has been reduced from a 5 mile radius that was advised earlier. #BeaverCountyPA #BeaverCounty
— Beaver Co. Emerg Svc (@BeaverCounty911) July 13, 2019
Earlier advisories included a 5-mile radius.
Those areas included Rochester, Monaca, Beaver Falls, New Brighton and Conway.
The chief of the Rochester Fire Department told WPXI that the original fire was out by 6 a.m. Saturday.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said the building had been abandoned for about 10 years and there was an emergency demolition last week the agency was handling, the station reported.
The DEP said a contractor left the building Friday evening, and fire crews were called at about 9 p.m. after a chemical reaction sparked a fire.
It appears there was a roof collapse at what was an old swimming pool supply shop that was full of chemicals. That’s why there was chlorine in the building.
Emergency officials told WPXI that the shelter order was originally issued after the fire ignited and there was a hazardous gas emission from the scene in Rochester.
The station also reported that residents in the area called in stating they had trouble breathing in the area, and reporter Lori Houy, who was on the scene, reportedly had to leave the area due to inhaling the fumes. She then reported from neighboring Ambridge.
The Beaver pool is closed until further notice.
Samson X Horne is a Tribune-Review digital producer. You can contact Samson at 412-320-7845, [email protected] or via Twitter .