The Natchitoches Police Department received a call from a concerned citizen at 6:20 p.m. Feb. 7 advising he smelled a strong odor coming from the West LA IceService on Amulet Street.
NPD Officers arrived on the scene and identified the odor as anhydrous ammonia and immediately evacuated residences and businesses within a four block area, including The Natchitoches Police Department. NPD Police Communications Officers were temporarily re-assigned to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office 911 Center. The City of Natchitoches Public Works Department put barricades in place to block off the area streets and then moved out of the area for safety.
The Natchitoches Fire Department and Louisiana State Police Haz-Mat team identified the location of the emergency shut off valve. NFD entered the building wearing basic fire and respiratory protection and initiated the shut down procedure. NFD and LSP Haz-Mat team then went in wearing level A Haz-Mat suits to confirm the leak was controlled, a minimal leak in the system was discovered and secured by closing other valves in the system.
The anhydrous ammonia was in vapor form and dissipated once the leak was contained, fortunately first responders were not injured. Residents were able to return home by 10 p.m. with instructions to open their windows for about an hour.
Chief Dove would like to thank Sheriff Victor Jones and Chief Laquita Collins for housing NPD Dispatchers during the evacuation. Thanks to the Natchitoches Fire Department and the LSP Haz-mat team for working together to keep the citizens of Natchitoches safe. Also thanks go out to Chief Craig Vercherand his staff at NSU Police Department for their assistance.