100 Evacuate Area of Toxic Spill

Two 55-gallon drums filled with an ether-based substance fell from a truck in Irvine, forcing authorities to cordon off the intersection of Von Karmen and McGaw avenues and evacuate about 100 people from two businesses Friday morning, authorities said.

Orange County Fire Department spokeswoman Kathleen Cha said passers-by discovered the drums, which were leaking into a flood control channel, at about 9:45 a.m. The drums fell from a truck from Anaheim-based Cypress Chemical Co., Cha said.

Two hazardous-materials teams and a fire engine company were sent to the scene to determine the type of chemicals involved and to contain the spill in the business and light industrial area.

Cha said the fact that the spill occurred in an open area when there were no winds helped firefighters quickly bring the situation under control.


Fire officials identified the ether-based substance as dipropylene glycol monomethyl ether, a chemical that is used as a solvent and in the manufacture of hydraulic brake fluids. It is moderately toxic and hazardous if absorbed through the skin or inhaled in large quantities, they said.

Fire officials advised businesses to shut off air conditioners and close windows and doors to prevent fumes from entering buildings. No injuries were reported.

Workers were allowed to return to their buildings about 1 p.m. and the intersection was reopened about 4 p.m.