Apache Junction Fire Department crews evacuated several homes and businesses after they responded to a reported gas leak Thursday afternoon at a scrap metal recycling business.
When crews first arrived, they found a high reading for hydrogen sulfide, an extremely flammable and toxic gas, according to Dave Montgomery, deputy fire chief. Eventually, it was identified as acetylene gas, commonly used in the welding process.
Harman’s Recycling, 1557 E. 18th Ave., was removing an older compressed gas cylinder into a bulk scrap bin for shipment to another facility, Montgomery said. Workers damaged the head of cylinder, which caused an unknown gas to leak profusely.
Crews were able were able to stop the leak and residents returned to their homes about two hours later, he said. Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek fire departments provided command and hazardous materials support.
The owner told the fire department the cylinder was dropped off four or five months prior, Montgomery said. The business owner has contracted a company that specializes in the removal and cleanup of hazardous waste.