A leaking chlorine tank forced the evacuation of about 125 people before dawn Sunday as hazardous materials crews worked for several hours to secure a faulty valve at a Serrano Irrigation District water filtration plant.
Firefighters said people who lived near the facility were awakened and evacuated at 1:25 a.m., about 45 minutes after an Orange police officer reported a strong chemical odor coming from the plant at 19352 Taft Ave.
Hazardous materials crews from Anaheim and the Orange County Fire Department found chlorine used for water purification coming from a 500-gallon tank and ordered residents evacuated from the surrounding neighborhood. Chlorine fumes can be lethal in cloud form.
Although inconvenienced by being awakened from their sleep early Sunday, those who were evacuated said they were generally thankful that authorities took swift action to protect them.
"I was delighted they moved us out," said Larry Dick, who lives on Playano Avenue. "We might have slept right through it, and I am not comfortable with what the ramifications might have been."
Authorities allowed residents to return home about 3:50 p.m. when the leak was shut off. They were temporarily housed at Villa Park High School in a center set up by the Orange County Chapter of the American Red Cross. No one was injured.
"I just took it in stride," said J.B. Fowler, who was awakened and told to leave his home on Yurok Street. "It seemed to be a very orderly and smooth operation.