Evacuation of Concentra clinic in Aurora ends after hazmat incident releases sodium hydroxide gas

Patient arrived after being exposed to chemical

AURORA, Colo. - The five people taken to the emergency room after a hazmat incident at Concentra Urgent Care in Aurora have all been discharged.

Aurora Fire Captain Wendy Lippman said a man came into the urgent care at 3350 Peoria St. just before 10 a.m. and complained that he had been exposed to sodium hydroxide, which is also known as lye or caustic soda.

Aurora firefighters evacuated the building Friday morning because of the incident.

Lye is corrosive and can cause skin burns and, if it gets in a person's eyes, it can damage them or even cause blindness, according to chemical hazard websites.

The treatment is to flush the skin with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes and then wash thoroughly with soap and water.

However,  when the man was in the urgent care clinic, he came into contact with water and this caused the sodium hydroxide to release a gas, Lippman said. 

Concentra spokesman Matt Longman described the incident in an email to 7NEWS.

"As our clinicians began to treat the patient and the chemical exposure, there was a reaction to the chemical, and fumes from the clinic spread through the center and throughout the building," Longman said.

"Following the chemical reaction, clinic staff notified 911, prompting assistance from the Fire Department and the Hazmat team," Longman said. "The building was evacuated and four Concentra associates, along with the initial patient, were sent to the emergency room for further evaluation."

The five people were taken to University of Colorado Hospital, and all were in good condition, said hospital spokesman Dan Weaver.

Later, around 2:15 p.m., Weaver announced that all five people had been discharged.

In the meantime, a hazmat team suited up in full gear and decontaminated the building, including ventilating the building.

Fire officials said they had returned the building to its owner about 1:30 p.m.

However, Longman said the Concentra medical center would remain closed the rest of the Friday, and it would likely reopen on Monday at normal operating hours.

Besides Concentra, Lippman said there are other tenants in the building, but she did not know their names.

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency also responded to the incident.

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