An Entire Town In Iowa Was Evacuated Due To A Chemical Fire’s Toxic Cloud Of Sulfuric Acid

The residents have Northwood, Iowa, have been evacuated after a fire containing sulfuric acid broke out near a municipal airport. Update: The evacuation has now been lifted.

1. The residents of Northwood, Iowa, have evacuated after a chemical fire broke out at a warehouse storing crop dusting materials. The evacuation wasn’t mandatory, but most of the town’s 1,900 residents left voluntarily.

Robert Bailey / Reuters

A shelter from the American Red Cross has been set up has been set up in the nearby town of Kensett to assist with the evacuation.

2. According to the Worth County Sherriff’s Office, the toxicity of the smoke has not been determined, but the sulfuric acid in the fire makes it especially difficult to fight as it reacts with water.

Robert Bailey / Reuters

The Northwood-Kensett Community School district had already canceled classes due to an impending blizzard also affecting the area.

3. So far, four people have sought treatment at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa. Their conditions have not been released, but sulfuric acid can cause vomiting and respiratory problems.

Robert Bailey / Reuters

4. Update: The DesMoines Register is now reporting that the evacuation has been lifted and residents have returned. Authorities say there was not as much sulfuric acid as originally feared and the cloud has shifted away from residential areas.

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