An ammonia leak last night at a Laurel ice cream plant forced the evacuation of about 15 workers and several dozen nearby residents, the Howard County Fire Department reported.
The chemical leak at the East Coast Ice Cream Novelties plant on Whiskey Bottom Road near U.S. 1 was reported at 8:40 p.m.
A county fire spokesman said a pipe ruptured, and several hundred gallons of ammonia used in the cooling process spilled.
At least six people -- one of them a firefighter -- were treated at the scene for the effects of inhaling ammonia fumes, which can cause respiratory damage.
Most of the people who were evacuated were residents of the nearby Pfister Mobile Home Park.
The plant produces ice cream products for the High's Dairy Store chain, which has its main office in the area.