By Cynthia M. Jeffries
Tupelo firefighters were called Wednesday to examine a natural gas and carbon monoxide leak found in one of the warehouses behind the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on South Green Street.
No evacuation was necessary.
The problem was contained to 66,000 square feet of warehouse space leased to AirCap/MTD. The leak did not affect any of the other warehouses operated through the Community Enterprises division of the Journal Publishing Co., nor did it affect the Journal’s news, business or production departments.
Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, AirCap maintenance manager Ray Ball contacted fire officials about testing for a possible gas leak in the company’s warehouse on Enterprise Drive.
AirCap warehouse manager Ron Kelly said workers had noticed a gas smell in their work area for about a week.
Wednesday, firefighters found a high level of carbon monoxide – a 75 parts per million reading. A lethal level is 100 parts per million.
The fire department also got a 475 reading on combustible gases, less than half the 1100 level needed for an explosion.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Woods said a leak from one of the tow motors or forklifts was the cause of the problem. Firefighters noticed the reading increased substantially when a worker started up one of the tow motors to move it.
The smell of gas was more noticeable Tuesday, Kelly said.
“The gas smell was so strong that it would burn your eyes,” he said.
One worker called in sick Tuesday, complaining of flu-like symptoms including nausea and headaches, said Murry Blankenship, distribution manager. Those are also the same symptoms associated with carbon monoxide poisoning.
All three of the employees at AirCap on Wednesday went by private vehicles to the North Mississippi Medical Center, where they were examined.
AirCap uses the warehouse to store lawn and garden equipment the company makes.