Pool chemicals spilled from a pickup Thursday morning onto Fountain Grove Parkway, creating a large chemical vapor cloud and forcing police to close a stretch of the major route through Santa Rosa during rush hour.
Police had not determined who spilled the muriatic acid and powdered chlorine near Thomas Lake Harris Drive during the morning commute.
It created a traffic mess and major delays for drivers, who crowded connecting streets in an attempt to get around the spill.
Fountain Grove Parkway Chemical Spill
One woman who drove through the spill soon after it occurred began complaining of nausea and breathing problems after she arrived at work, said Santa Rosa fire Battalion Chief Jack Piccinini. She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation.
Santa Rosa firefighters in lime green haz-mat gear responded to the spill, conducting tests that verified it involved chemicals commonly used to clean swimming pools. Crews then neutralized the residue and removed it, allowing police to reopen the road at about 11:30 a.m.
The liquid and powder chemicals hit Fountain Grove Parkway at about 7:50 a.m., when several one-gallon containers fell off the back of an eastbound pickup as it headed up the hill.
Numerous drivers began calling 911 to report the spill and a growing gas cloud. Witnesses reported a man driving the pickup stopped and began picking up containers and returning them to the back of the truck. But he quickly quit and drove away, appearing to give up as the vapor cloud grew.
The first fire engine to arrive found the intersection obscured by a large chemical cloud, Piccinini said. They also found four unmkarked one-gallon containers on the road, he said.
Chlorine and muriatic acid are a bad combination, especially if mixed in an enclosed area at high concentrations, Piccinini said. Exposure could cause serious respiratory problems.
In the open, exposure still could cause headaches and breathing discomfort for some people, he said.