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Residents of two apartment buildings on Monitor Street were temporarily evacuated late Saturday after a reported chemical release from the Airgas Store at 1007 Monitor St.

The La Crosse Fire Department responded to a possible chemical leak at 11:17 p.m., with crews arriving observing a “white cloud” coming from the back of the Airgas store. The emission was later determined to be a leak coming from an 85,000-pound liquid oxygen tank, according to Capt. Greg Temp.

Members of the Fire Department suppressed the vapor cloud, caused by an activated pressure relief valve, using hose streams while other members of the fire crew evacuated two nearby apartment buildings, citing concerns of chemical reactivity.

A third crew then entered the scene to stop the leak, according to the Fire Department.

Jared Anderson, who was at the scene, says the release cloud “was massive. I live near it and I was told to run by firefighters on the scene.”

“I walked my fiance out to her car and saw the cloud of gas and some firefighters on the street,” Anderson says. “I told her go to back inside and ran to the firemen to ask if we needed to leave. I was told we needed to run. So i ran inside, and we got our survival backpacks on and took off down the street on foot.”

In total, 20 residents were evacuated for about 30 minutes due to the leak, with no injuries reported. The La Crosse Police Department assisted on the scene.

The Airgas Store is closed Saturdays and Sundays and a call Sunday morning was unanswered.

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Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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General assignment reporter

Emily Pyrek covers health, human interest stories and anything involving dogs for the La Crosse Tribune. She is always interested in story ideas and can be contacted at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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