UPDATE: Evacuation Lifted Following Warehouse Fire

Updated: 02/20/2014 6:25 PM
Created: 02/20/2014 2:41 PM

(ABC 6 News) - We continue to follow developing news out of Northwood, Iowa. Tonight we've learned the city wide evacuation order has been lifted.

ABC 6 News anchor Laura Lee joins us from our newsroom with the latest information. Laura at one point officials were concerned about the blowing winds and sulfuric acid being released into the air.

Yes, but at this hour hazmat crews have tested and ruled the air quality is safe.

Take a look at this video. As you can see massive flames in the distance. We're told the fire was at a fertilizer warehouse-, Northowood AG Products, located at the Northwood Municipal Airport. It started shortly after 7:30 this morning.

Earlier today the small town of about 2,000 people were forced to leave. Many bussed to the Kensett Community Center, where an emergency shelter was set up.

"There was a potential for danger and with that potential it's a precautionary measure let's get people out of town and make sure people are safe," said Mayor Jane Bloomingdale.

Hazmat crews will continue to test the air in the following days to make sure its safe.  Again at this hour, the evacuation order has been lifted and families are being allowed back into their homes.

Thanks Laura.

For many Northwood residents, it's been a day of fear and uncertainty... and more questions than answers. ABC 6 News reporter Dan Conradt spent the day at that shelter at the Kensett Community Center.

The community center in Kensett is a former school and on Thursday the auditorium was filled once again.

"This morning, around nine o'clock, I had a phone call," said Kris Rice.

For many Northwood residents, it was the first indication something was wrong

"Her father came and knocked on our door and told us..."

"...Northwood residents are asked to evacuate immediately," said Rice.

"Chemical plant you know exploded out by the airport. Don't want to breathe, because it's just so nasty."

"We were asking for help to see where to go, they told us to come to kensett."

"People have to go somewhere, so we have this facility available, we were called, they said expect an influx of people," said Kensett Mayor Tom Dakin.

Many Northwood residents were evacuated to Kensett on school buses.

"They didn't know how bad it was going to be"

"We have two other venues that are relatively full in town, with people that don't have friends, relatives south of here to go to," said Dakin.

"They tell you different things every five minutes or whatever."

"Although it doesn't look real busy now in the background there's an entire nursing home," said Dakin.

"I'm just waiting to find out when I can go back to Northwood," said Rice.

"We have cots available here. We have cots available at city hall. We have all the pet owners with their pets. We have a dining service set up. We have a huge generator set up right outside the community center," said Dakin.

"Are you frightened?" "A little bit."

Dan Conradt, ABC 6 News.