Victims in Howard County court evacuation released; facility reopened

Five people treated; three had been hospitalized

August 06, 2010|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

Three people rushed to Sinai Hospital Thursday after inhaling gas fumes at the Howard County Distrtict Court in Ellicott City were later treated and released, county fire officials said. The gas came from a cleaning product in use for maintenance, and forced the evacuation of 200 people from the building, which reopened Friday morning.

Investigators believe the gas was from chlorine powder being used by a contract maintenance crew working on the ventilation system. A fourth visitor to the building was treated at the scene and a county police officer was treated and released. Five county police officers waiting for court appearances retrieved gas masks from their vehicles and helped evacuate the building as Howard County fire hazardous materials teams responded for what is thought to be an accident. One officer was treated and released.

Fire Department spokeswoman Julia Lynch said all three people hospitalized were conscious and breathing but had symptoms that required further examination and treatment. All were visitors to the building.

Officials said 70 emergency vehicles responded to the scene at about 2 p.m., but said court should be open Friday.

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