INDEPENDENCE -- All residents and employees at Evergreen Health and Rehabilitation Center were evacuated from the building Sunday, July 18, because of a natural gas leak, according to Polk County Fire District No. 1.
The incident was reported by an Evergreen supervisor, who noticed the smell at the facility at about 3:30 p.m., said Fire Chief Jason Cane.
Firefighters responded and moved 34 patients, some of them bedridden, and six personnel from the building and temporarily housed them next door at Independence First Baptist Church.
Evergreen was clear for almost two hours afterward as NW Natural Gas technicians tried to address the problem -- a blocked vent on a commercial water heater, Cane said.
He said that prevented the device from burning off excess gas and caused it to bleed out into the complex.
"It could have been really serious," Cane said. "If you leak enough gas, you have the potential for an explosion.
"And there are a number of people in the facility that are on oxygen ... you get gas mixed in there and you could have serious complications as a result of inhaling it."
No injuries or ill effects from the leak were reported, Cane said.