Iowa town of 2,000 evacuated over chemical fire fears

Residents of a rural town in northern Iowa were ordered to evacuate Thursday morning after a building containing sulfuric acid caught fire, officials said.

No casualties have been reported in Northwood, which has roughly 2,000 residents.

A Worth County emergency dispatcher told the Los Angeles Times that there was a fire at the municipal airport at a building that contains fertilizer chemicals.

Sulfuric acid is used in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizer, and can be dangerous when inhaled -- and can be explosive, too, if combined with other materials.

The dispatcher said the town’s residents had been evacuated to the town of Kensett, about six miles south.


Further information wasn’t immediately available.

A call to the Worth County Emergency Management Coordinator’s office -- based in Northwood -- rang without answer Thursday morning. The Worth County dispatcher, who would only identify herself as Pat, said county sheriff’s officials were out of the office to monitor the situation.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the community of Northwood this morning,” U.S. Rep. Bruce Bailey (D-Iowa) said in a post on Facebook. “I will continue to monitor the situation in my district and stand ready to work with local and state officials to help in any way I can.”

Picture of the warehouse fire in Northwood sent in by Krista R. Taken earlier this morning— KAAL TV (@ABC6NEWS) February 20, 2014

Just arrived on scene in #NorthwoodIA. A perimeter has been set up by IA State Patrol limiting access to town.— Devin Bartolotta (@highDEVinition) February 20, 2014

Update: Perimeter is changing around #NorthwoodIA fire because of shifting winds and continued chemical concerns.— Devin Bartolotta (@highDEVinition) February 20, 2014