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Acid Leak Forces Evacuation of 125; No Injuries Reported

December 30, 1997

An industrial acid cloud leaked from a 55-gallon drum Monday, forcing about 125 people to flee businesses, but no injuries were reported, county fire officials said.

The cloud that sent the employees of Applied Solar and five downwind businesses into the streets leaked out when the two acids ate through a plastic liner and reacted to the metal of the barrel. The acids were a combination of nitric hydrochloric acid and acetic acid, which is vinegar.

"If the chemical clouds were inhaled, they could be fatal," said county fire inspector Mark Tolbert.

But the cloud dispersed without causing injury.

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