Police: Child, 9, caused Midtown explosion

Incident on Sept. 13 prompted evacuation of Palo Alto apartment complex

A 9-year old child playing in the storage unit of a Palo Alto apartment complex accidentally set off the small explosion Tuesday (Sept. 13) that caused residents to evacuate their homes, police investigators concluded Friday.

The child touched swimming pool supplies at 2727 Midtown Court, which resulted in chlorine tablets mixing with a liquid. That reaction that sent chlorine gas and smoke into the atmosphere, police said.

The storage unit had been left unlocked while the swimming pool was undergoing maintenance. Residents of the apartment complex told police that children had been playing in the area of the pool-supply storage unit. The children were eventually located and admitted to accidentally causing the gas release, police said in a statement to the media.

In responding to the 911 call made at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, firefighters found a 5-gallon bucket containing a chlorine-based substance that was violently "off gassing," police said.

The substance was removed from the building and firefighters were able to stop the hazardous fumes. Residents were allowed to return to their apartments at around 9:30 p.m.

Seven residents and one Palo Alto firefighter were evaluated for exposure to the substance and were treated on the scene. The Red Cross assisted one family unable to return to their residence.

During the incident, traffic was stopped due to toxic gas.

"The incident serves as a good reminder to always keep chemicals and other potentially dangerous items secured and out of reach of children," the police said in the press release.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I'm glad that they discovered the reason for this & that no one was more severely injured. I'm also sorry that it happened at all - it could have been more disastrous.

Like this comment
Posted by toxic chemicals
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Not locking a room with toxic chemicals is very dangerous. What if the kid tried to eat the chlorine tablets?

Like this comment
Posted by G TOWN
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Who should be held acountable for all damages?The parents of course.I have children and belive that im responsible for them.Watch your kids stop just having them and letting them run the show.This should be a lesson learned.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of another community
on Sep 18, 2011 at 1:27 am

Who should be held accountable for all damages?

The idiot who didn't lock the pool supply storage unit, that's who.

Like this comment
Posted by Cher
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2011 at 6:31 am

Shared responsibility. Americans, in general, are notorious for placing blame on someone else. Both the parents and the people in charge of the facilities hold some responsibility, as does of course the child.

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2011 at 8:42 am

Pool maintenance people need to access their supplies while working and should not be held responsible for wayward children. The chemicals were not lying around in a play area. Nine year olds need supervision, not by pool maintenance workers, but by their parents or another responsible adult. Hold the parents accountable.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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