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UPDATE: Some Canton residents allowed to return home after chemical release
Thousands evacuated, air quality returning to normal after sulfur dioxide filled the air downtown


Courtesy of Michelle Renee Chyatte DrPH, MPH
Download (WKSU Only)
Convoy Containers, INC:

Update 8:45 a.m.:
Stark County HAZMAT says the evacuation zone is being scaled back hourly, based on air quality readings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Little remains of the former Convoy Containers building. There is still a smell of sulfur in the air surrounding the site, along with thick clouds.

Police continue to patrol neighborhoods in the evacuation zone to make sure no one is reentering without permission.

Firefighters are now using an automated system to pour water on the building. The fire is now nearly out.

Update 8:15 a.m.:
Some people are being allowed to return home after taking shelter at the Memorial Civic Center in Canton, following a chemical release Monday. 

Jim Macris is the Civic Center's event services manager. He says officials have shrunk the evacuation zone to an eight block by eight block area, down from nearly 20 blocks at the height of the situation.

There are still about 30 people taking refuge at the Civic Center. As many as 100 had showed up there last night. 

Original story:
Sulfer dioxide levels are now at a level that is not life threatening after a chemical release in Canton Monday.

According to WEWS TV, the hazmat situation started Monday afternoon in a building that houses the former Convoy Containers, INC.

Firefighters were called to the building after seeing a cloud of white smoke. When they realized it was sulfer dioxide, they called hazmat crews.

The building smoldered for several hours, before becoming fully engulfed in flames about 10 p.m. Monday.

The neighborhood surrounding Convoy was evacuated and five people reportedly were taken to area hospitals, treated for non-life threatening injuries and released. The Beacon Journal reports that as many as 7,000 people may have been displaced.

WEWS reports that by early this morning, chemical levels are less than 10 parts per million. Late Monday night, it was 53 parts per million. Sulfer dioxide over 100 parts per million is considered to be life threatening. 

The Convoy Containers Inc. website says it ceased operations in May 2011. The building is located at 1811 20th St. NE in Canton. 

Homes from 22nd Street NE to 4th Street NE were evacuated. Shelters were set up at Crenshaw Middle School and later at the Memorial Civic Center.

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