Capital Commons evacuated due to odor

  • Firefighters stood outside the Capital Commons commercial building Wednesday afternoon, while the hydrogen sulfide detected on the lower levels was ventilated out. NICK REID—Monitor staff

  • Firefighters stand outside the Capital Commons on Wednesday while hydrogen sulfide in the lower levels is ventilated out. NICK REIDMonitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 8/3/2016 1:56:32 PM

It was more than just stinky. The rotten eggs smell that caused the evacuation of a downtown building Wednesday could have threatened the safety of people inside, a fire official said.

The eight-story Capital Commons commercial building at 11 S. Main St. – home to tenants such as O Steaks & Seafood and Red River Theatres – was evacuated for more than four hours, while firefighters investigated the pungent odor and ventilated it to a safe level.

Battalion Chief Sean Brown said firefighters detected levels of hydrogen sulfide that were high enough to endanger the people on the lower floors of the 93,000-square-foot building. The building was evacuated about 11:30 a.m.

By 3:45 p.m., firefighters had ventilated the building enough that they could leave the scene, according to a press release issued by Chief Dan Andrus.

Brown said hydrogen sulfide is associated with sewer gas and the recent drought conditions could have dried out plumbing traps that would have otherwise filtered the gas before it entered the building.

“It could very well be associated with the lack of rain,” he said, adding that the construction project on Main Street didn’t contribute to the issue.

Prolonged exposure to low concentrations of the gas can cause nausea and headaches, according to the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Higher concentrations can have more serious effects.

Built in 2008, Capital Commons is a prominent brick and granite commercial building with several tenants.

Employees could be seen waiting outside during the sunny afternoon, while traffic flowed past fire trucks parked in the construction zone.


(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)

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