31 people were hospitalized after a tractor carrying anhydrous ammonia leaked in Beach Park, causing toxic plumes of the chemical to be released throughout the area.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible vehicle fire at 4:25 a.m. Thursday near Green Bay Road & 29th Street in Beach Park.
Lake County Sheriff Sgt. Christopher Covelli said that a sheriff’s sergeant and sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene and found what appeared to be a cloud of smoke. As the two exited their squad cars, they were overcome with an airborne chemical, Covelli added.
“The Sergeant and Deputy retreated, as the chemical was overpowering. There were several victims at the scene who were rescued by initial responding fire personnel,” Covelli said.
Covelli said that the tractor was towing containers holding anhydrous ammonia. The containers leaked as the tractor was traveling on Green Bay Road in the area of 29th Street, which caused toxic plumes of the chemical to be released into the air.
More than 25 ambulances and numerous hazmat teams were called to the scene. More than 20 additional police officers were also called to assist in closing a 1-mile perimeter in the area.
Beach Park residents within a one-mile radius were asked to shelter in place, keep all windows closed and turn off HVAC systems due to the toxic chemical in the air.
At 9:30 a.m., the shelter in place request was lifted, Covelli said. Law enforcement and fire personnel were going door-to-door to check on residents to make sure they were safe and not in medical distress.
At least 31 people, including the sheriff’s sergeant, sheriff’s deputy and a Zion police officer, have been transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.