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.