Gilbert animal clinic with potentially toxic air cleared, sick and injured pets safely evacuatedPosted: Updated:
More than a dozen animals were safely removed from a hazardous situation at a Gilbert animal clinic Thursday morning.
"Some great teamwork between the fire department and the staff of all the businesses in our building," Dr. Raegen Wells, the medical director at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, said. Thursday morning.
According to Deputy Chief Josh Ehrman of the Gilbert Fire Rescue Department, a musty odor, possibly a gas leak, was reported at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday at the animal hospital at 86 W Juniper Ave., which is southwest of Gilbert and Guadalupe roads.
The building was finally cleared shortly before 10:30 a.m., nine hours after the initial call went out, but the cause still had not been determined.
"When crews arrived, we did not find a gas leak, but we had crews from Mesa, the hazmat team, start assessing the building and [they] did find a hazardous situation," he said.
BluePearl is a 24-hour emergency clinic, which means it has a fully equipped hospital with any number of potentially dangerous substances, everything from anesthesia to specialized cleaning supplies.
After Southwest Gas confirmed that there was no gas leaking inside the animal hospital, there was some conjecture that a machine used to sterilize equipment might have been to blame.
Based on the readings from air meters firefighters took into the building, crews had to back out. Ehrman said they were being medically monitored, but he did not elaborate on what the meters picked up, saying only that it was toxic.
Crews on the scene are now trying to determine exactly what is causing the smell.
"We don't know what substance is on the inside that's causing the issue," Ehrman said, explaining that the problem was isolated to the inside of the building.
More fire crews were called out at about 5 a.m. to help monitor the situation and keep an eye on the firefighters who initially responded.
According to the Gilbert Fire Rescue Department, both of the staffers who were at the clinic when the odor was reported have been accounted for and are OK. There were 15 animals inside. One dog was taken outside early on.
Emergency crews put together a plan to evacuate the 14 remaining animals -- 13 dogs and one cat. The conditions of those animals were not immediately available. Because the clinic is an emergency animal hospital, many of the animals were being monitored for reasons unrelated to whatever might be in the air. That means moving them was a bit tricky.
As firefighters took those animals outside, they handed them over to clinic staffers who were on hand to care for them and take them to another animal hospital for ongoing treatment.
One dog wearing "the cone of shame" made a break for it during the rescue operation. He was eventually corralled.
"The good news is that all of them have been transported to other facilities and everybody is doing well right now," Wells said, explaining that BluePearl contacted the pets' owners to keep them apprised of the situation.
BluePearl is part of a national chain that also has clinics in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria and Avondale.
Now that the building was empty, crews were in a better position to determine the source of the odor and take care of it. The Gilbert Fire Rescue Department tweeted shortly before 10:30 a.m. that the hazard had been eliminated and the cause was still under investigation.
The Town of Gilbert tweeted that Juniper Avenue is closed between Gilbert Road and Ash Street while emergency crews were on the scene.
We are in the process of turning the property back to the owners.— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
Hazmat update: Hazmat crews have cleared the building and there is no longer a hazard. GFRD will continue to investigate the cause.— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
Hazmat update: Arizona National Guard 91st Civil Support Team has been requested and is now assisting Hazmat Crews pic.twitter.com/gA7FphePRN— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
Hazmat update: all animals have been removed from clinic and turned over to Veterinary staff. All animals appear to be ok.— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
Hazmat teams from Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert are entering the animal clinic. pic.twitter.com/1ZxyInGi8A— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
Hazmat situation goes 1st alarm in Gilbert vet clinic 14 animals still inside, workers and firefighters ok. pic.twitter.com/gBTBAx4tQE— Gibby Parra (@GibbyParra) April 6, 2017
Hazmat update: Firefighters are working on a plan to evacuate the remaining animals from the clinic. pic.twitter.com/2IrzxUvUqR— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
Haz Mat situation, Gilbert and Juniper at Veterinary Clinic. PIO responding more information to follow.— Gilbert Fire Rescue (@GilbertFireDept) April 6, 2017
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