Chemical cleanup continues after fire at Orion warehouse

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Keeping contamination in check is the concern in Orion after it took thousands of gallons of water to put out Wednesday’s fire at the Helena Chemical warehouse.  

Authorities are concerned about what else the water washed away and where it’s headed.

The director of Henry County’s Office of Emergency Management said there were about 25 different chemicals in the building. Runoff from some of those chemicals made it into a nearby creek. Crews built a dam last night to keep it from going any farther. They started pumping the water into tanks Thursday. 

Kathleen Kurrle, who lives near the contaminated creek at US-150 and N. 1200 Avenue, knew something was going on when emergency crews started driving down her street Wednesday night.

“We saw a bunch of vehicles and trucks and stuff going by and we didn’t know for sure what it was,” she said. 

Closer to the creek, Carol Gehring realized something was happening too. 

“We’ll go look out the kitchen window over here to see what more has been added and those big red trucks were the last thing that we saw,” she said.

Those trucks are taking the dirty creek water somewhere safe to dump. 

However, that creek runs right through one man’s property. He said the creek used to have fish in it, but he hasn’t seen any since crews built the dam. 

That makes Gehring worry about her creek. 

“We don’t talk to anybody or anything. Nobody has come up here and asked us anything. I guess we are of no concern because we are higher,” she said. “It makes you wonder, you know, about our water supply.”

Kurrle said she’s not worried about the possible contamination.

“It’s a little scary, but I don’t think it’s going to affect us. We’re just watching the trucks go back and forth all day long taking care of it,” she said.

Orion’s water superintendent said the village pulls its water from deep wells that wouldn’t be impacted by the chemicals. 

The Environmental Protection Agency is running soil and water tests to see what has been contaminated.

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