Essex school evacuated after ammonia leak from fridge

Two women members of staff were overcome by fumes when a fridge at a school in Essex leaked ammonia gas.

Firefighters were called to Philip Morant School in Rembrandt Way, Colchester before pupils began arriving from morning lessons after the weekend.

The building was evacuated and the source of the gas traced to a leaking fridge on the first floor.

A decontamination zone was established and children arriving were directed to areas away from the leaking gas.

Greg Keys, incident commander, said: "A fridge in the staff room has leaked ammonia refrigerant.

"Initially two members of staff were overcome by the fumes, but they appear to be OK now.

"Ammonia is pretty unpleasant stuff, it can cause skin burns and [is] dangerous to inhale.

"Crews wearing gas tight suits have gone into the building and removed the fridge.

"It had already vented all of its gas but we wanted to get it away from the building so that the school can start to use the block again and get on with their day.

"The block has around 10 classrooms in and we made sure it was cleared.

"Because the leak happened before the school day started the building was largely empty and as pupils arrived for the day they were directed to other rooms."

Firefighters took nearly three hours to evacuate the school and ventilate rooms and corridors so they could be used.

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