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Des Plaines firefighters subdue vapor cloud

Firefighters disperse the nitrogen vapor from behind a business on the 1900 block of Wolf Road in Des Plaines.


Courtesy Des Plaines Fire Department

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Published: 8/5/2010 6:22 PM

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A vapor cloud emanating from a liquid nitrogen leak at a Des Plaines manufacturing plant forced authorities to shut down traffic Wednesday afternoon on Wolf Road between Howard Avenue and Oakton Street, and Howard between Wolf and the railroad tracks.

The Des Plaines Fire Department responded at about 2:40 p.m. to a report of white smoke coming from the Cloud Inc., plant at 1930 S. Wolf Road. Vaporized liquid nitrogen was leaking from a 6,000-gallon stationary tank behind the building, Fire Chief Alan Wax said.

The fire department's hazardous materials team was deployed, along with two fire engines, two ambulances, a HAZMAT vehicle, ladder truck, battalion chief and two deputy chiefs.

An Elk Grove Village ambulance also assisted. As the cloud began traveling northwest, two additional businesses in the area were evacuated.

Firefighters dispersed the vapor cloud with a hose stream.

"It's not toxic," Wax said. "There was no leaking liquid. The concern with the vapor is that it displaces oxygen, so it's an asphyxiant."

Shortly after 4 p.m., enough vapors were dispersed and the pressure in the tank was low enough for firefighters to shut off the valve.