Dillons evacuated in Emporia

Jennifer Stultz

EMPORIA—Customers were evacuated from a Dillons store Wednesday afternoon in Emporia because of refridgerant leak, initially reported as a fire. Goodwill and Old Rum’s Liquor, located in the same building, were also evacuated.

Emporia Fire Department Battalion Chief Ryan Conley said fire personnel observed a smokey haze were they arrived at Dillons, 902 E. 12th Ave., just before 5:45 p.m. in Emporia. Store employees reported smoke coming out of a utility room.

Fire crews entered the evacuated store made their way to the back mechanical room where they found a vapor or a fog, instead of smoke, Conley said.

Firemen determined that a refrigerant leak had occurred in one of the store’s chiller units, filling the store with the vapor substance.

The fire department ventilated the building and contacted the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Once the building was ventilated, Dillons employees were allowed back inside the store to retrieve their belongings.

Sheila Lowrie, corporate affairs manager for Dillons, said the store temporarily closed due to the incident. Employees are actively working with the local health department to follow all guidelines which include discarding any damaged or unpackaged foods.