Ammonia leak in Zillah results in evacuation for dozens - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Ammonia leak in Zillah results in evacuation for dozens

Posted: Updated:

ZILLAH, WA - Investigators are still looking into the cause of an ammonia leak in Zillah that resulted in a large portion of downtown getting evacuated.

It started with an alert telling those who live and work near Stadelman Fruit, a packing facility in Zillah, to evacuate the area due to an ammonia leak that happened close to 7:30 this morning.

An entire section of the downtown was evacuated and people were sent to Zillah Middle School to keep safe and warm. Between 40 and 50 people were sent to the shelter, and among them was Jackie Jensen, who lives down the street from Stadelman's. 

"I didn't believe it because I've been here for 41 years and I've never had this happen," Jensen said, "so my daughter came in and said 'we've got to get out of here right now'."

In a hurry, Jensen tried to get herself and her pets to safety, but unfortunately one of her dogs was left behind, which left her worried.

"There is one still home, she would not come out, she's a rescue dog and she's scared," said Jensen.

The Office of Emergency Management says that despite many being evacuated, only one person was sent to the hospital, but others still felt the effects of the leak.

"It smelled like chlorine mixed with other chemicals," said Griselda Saenz, an evacuee. "It smelled awful, we could not stand the smell."

For Saenz, who lives across from Stadelman's, the leak left a bigger impression than just a bad smell.

"The paramedics were here and they brought the paramedics inside and they started taking my pulse," said Saenz. "I was coughing really bad and I just felt a shortness of breath and my chest real tight."

The leak was stopped close to 11:00 a.m. by a Sunnyside Hazmat team and people were able to return to their homes and jobs at 12:30.

The cause of the leak is still under investigation.