Park City Ice Arena evacuated as dangerous gas leaks | ParkRecord.com

Park City Ice Arena evacuated as dangerous gas leaks

A potentially fatal gas leaked at the Park City Ice Arena on Saturday, the Park City Fire District said, requiring the evacuation of the building and a response by a hazardous-materials team.

Bob Zanetti, the deputy fire chief, said firefighters and the hazardous-materials team were called to the Quinn's Junction facility at 3:30 p.m. The Park City Police Department said in an online posting valves on two compressors failed. The valve failures led to ammonia in a gaseous form to be released, the police said.

The leak was contained to a mechanical room and the gaseous ammonia did not reach toward the ice rink, he said.

He said the gaseous ammonia was at "dangerous levels." The hazardous-materials team found that the gaseous ammonia reached a concentration of more than 8,000 parts per million in the air. That level of concentration can be fatal, Zanetti said. A detector designed to measure the concentration was triggered, prompting the call to the Fire District.

Zanetti said 10 firefighters, primarily members of the hazardous-materials team, responded. They spent nearly four hours at the scene.

Zanetti said the firefighters wore oxygen tanks and specially sealed suits designed to protect against airborne chemicals. They entered the building and opened a large garage door in the back for ventilation purposes. Firefighters shut off the ammonia valves. The ammonia is used in the refrigeration system that freezes the ice. The firefighters also used fans to help with the ventilation.

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The levels of gaseous ammonia dropped steadily to safe levels once the valves were closed, he said.

Phil Kirk, a police captain, said approximately 10 guests at the Ice Arena and five employees were evacuated. Kirk said one of the employees was briefly exposed to the gaseous ammonia. That employee was investigating what triggered the detector when the exposure occurred, Kirk said. A medical crew evaluated and then released the employee. The evacuation lasted approximately three hours. The Police Department created a perimeter around the building to stop anyone from entering.

Dave Thacker, the chief building official and fire code official at City Hall, said it took approximately 90 minutes for the level of gaseous ammonia to fall to a point that oxygen masks were no longer required. He said the faulty valves were isolated. The detection of the leak, the emergency response and the repairs transpired as designed, he said. The "operation ran as it was supposed to," Thacker said.

"All the alarm systems put in place . . . are working and worked properly," he said.

The Ice Arena is one of the only facilities within the Park City limits that uses ammonia for refrigeration purposes.

"Everything is running smoothly now," Thacker said.

City Hall said the Ice Arena reopened for a private event on Saturday evening. It reopened on Sunday morning for the public.

The popular facility, which debuted in early 2006, hosts clubs in sports like figure skating, hockey, curling and speedskating. It also provides ice time for camps and clinics as well as regular public skating times.