LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW) - The La Crosse Fire Department and Hazardous Materials teams were called to Mississippi Welder's Supply at 6:00 a.m. for a liquid nitrogen leak.
The business is located on the north side of town at 611 George Street.
"I woke up about 5:25 this morning," Kathy Arntson said. "Heard this hissing noise, couldn't tell if it was water or what it was."
She was hearing a Mississippi Welder's Supply tank leaking behind her house.
"There was a significant leak going on and we were unable to determine what the product actually was," Div. Chief Tom Wallerich, La Crosse Fire Department said. "We knew it was either liquid nitrogen or liquid oxygen."
Neighbors evacuated from their homes did the only thing they could, sit on the sidewalk and wait.
"We've heard different things at Mississippi Welder's Supply behind us," Arntson said. "Nothing has ever alarmed us."
As the sun came up, the Fire Department worked to shut off the valve.
A half hour later it was off and they figured out liquid nitrogen was leaking.
"Liquid nitrogen is an asphyxiant," Wallerich said. "So if you're in the immediate area there can be a concern but we were able to check it out with out meters and confirm everything was ok."
An hour after all of this started, around 7 a.m., neighbors were able to go back inside to get ready for their day.
"I feel fine, confident,"Arntson said. "La Crosse has a Haz-mat team out here its all good."
And the morning commute on George Street continued as if nothing even happened.
Mississippi Welder's Supply said the nitrogen tank has a valve that is designed to open if there is extra pressure inside.
Even though it hasn't happened before, here, this morning it vented like it was supposed to.
The cloud that was seen happened because the liquid nitrogen was so cold.
They also said it would only be a health concern if someone were to walk through that cloud.
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