Janitor mixing chemicals creates ‘chemical cloud,’ causing Rock County Courthouse to evacuate, close

Courthouse closed for public safety

A chemical cloud formed while a janitor was preparing water treatment products at the Rock County Courthouse on Friday morning, leading to an evacuation, officials said.

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference Friday morning, saying the chemical spill was caused by a facilities management worker who mixed chemicals to treat water for the courthouse air cooling system when a chemical cloud formed, which activated the alarm system. The courthouse was evacuated. The call reporting the incident came in at 8:30 a.m.

Things are clearing up at courthouse park in Janesville- authorities say they’re working on getting things cleaned up in relation to this morning’s chemical emergency- the courthouse is closed the rest of today. #News3Now @WISCTV_News3 pic.twitter.com/iIoeqD05Og

— Adam Duxter (@News3Adam) July 19, 2019

Facilities management personnel shut down the air handling system to contain the chemical incident, officials said. Deputies stationed at the building helped evacuate it.

The janitor exposed to the chemical cloud was taken to a hospital for treatment, the sheriff’s office. A Rock County Sheriff’s Office Deputy was treated at the scene and released.

Sheriff Troy Knudson said deputy was treated at the scene and released.

Multiple departments responded, including the Rock County Hazmat team. Officials said the courthouse was closed for the day at 9:26 a.m. for public safety.

The chemical spill is contained and the crews are finishing cleaning up. The area is back open to pedestrians and cars but the building will remain closed for the rest of the day. #News3Now pic.twitter.com/dUWLWh0x0u

— Gabriella Bachara (@GabbyBachara) July 19, 2019

The Janesville Fire Department said the hazmat team isolated the gas and ventilated the area. Fire units were at the scene until a private company removed the chemicals. After the private company removed the chemicals, courthouse workers were able to return to the building at about 4 p.m.

Fire officials said that because of the high temperatures Friday, the Southern Wisconsin Emergency Preparedness Team was requested to provided rehab for emergency personnel on scene.

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