Ammonia Leak in Scranton Forces Residents from Homes

SCRANTON, Pa. -- Police cruisers and fire trucks blocked off part of North Keyser Avenue after an ammonia leak was discovered at a refrigerated warehouse in Scranton late Saturday night.

The smell of the chemical hung in the air, and dozens of people in nearby homes were told they had to leave.

"It was a very strong ammonia smell, and we both immediately went in our home, and not 10 minutes later, I had a large fireman come to my door with a gas mask and said, 'You better get out. You better evacuate,' " said Kay Schofield of Scranton.

"It was very strong. It made the eyes burn and your nose burn. Yes, it was nasty," said Lorraine McLaughlin of Scranton.

The leak was found at Gress Refrigerated Services.  At least one worker had to be treated for exposure.

Lorraine McLaughlin lives at the corner of Ferdinand Street and Keyser Avenue. She says a firefighter came to her door after 11 p.m. on Saturday.

"Our doorbell rang, and we were asleep, and we were notified by EMS that there was an ammonia leak back in the next block and they wanted us to evacuate. We have a summer home, so we got in the car at 11:30 at night and drove there," said McLaughlin.

The Keyser Valley Community Center was set up as a shelter for those who were told they had to leave their home. For many people we spoke to, they say they were fortunate enough to have family close by and a place to spend the night.

"They were like, 'Yep, you gotta go.' The smell was so ridiculous you couldn't even stay. There was no way. I have two dogs too, so all of us left," said Leah Filipkoski of Scranton.

Scranton Fire Department officials say the leak was shut off and the air cleared by 2 a.m.

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