According to Fire Chief Curt Bittle, at about 9:00 a.m. this morning a major chemical spill occurred. Contractors were in the middle of a major renovation at Winona Senior High School, which involved ripping up walls, when a liter of ammonium sulfite was knocked over, he said. The ammonium sulfite resulted in a very pungent smell that required an evacuation of both the WSHS and District Offices until noon, to allow the Winona Fire Department to fumigate.
The spill was probably more of a respiratory problem than a fire hazard, Chief Bittle said. The fire department recorded about 10 ppm from the spill, ammonium sulfite can become lethal at 500 ppm. The fire department used floor dry to absorb the ammonium sulfite, scooped it up, and hauled it out in overpack drums, Chief Bittle explained. The high school staff did a good job of activating the fire alarm, and evacuating the premises, Chief Bittle added.