Ammonia Leak Forces Evacuations

An ammonia leak at the House of Raeford Poultry Processing Plant in Rose Hill in Duplin County sent several employees to the hospital and led to a four-mile evacuation of nearby homes.

The incident happened just after 5:00 when employees noticed ammonia leaking from a pipe. More than 100 employees fled the building after a cloud of ammonia formed.

Magnolia Assistant Fire Chief James Ezzell says dense fog in the area kept the ammonia vapors from dissipating. Classes at the nearby Rose Hill Magnolia Elementary School were cancelled as authorities used school busses to transport employees out of the area. Ezzell says about two dozen employees had trouble breathing minutes after leaving the plant and were taken to area hospitals for observation.

Evacuees were allowed to return back to their homes around 8:30 Tuesday morning. The plant will dispose of all the poultry products that were processed during the night.