COUNTY ROADS DEPARTMENT BUILDING EVACUATED

COUNTY ROADS DEPARTMENT BUILDING EVACUATED

The Doña Ana County Roads Department Office Complex at 2025 E. Griggs in Las Cruces was briefly evacuated Thursday morning, Feb. 20, 2002.

County Risk Manager Ed Fridenstine said two employees reported mild symptoms consistent with carbon monoxide exposure. Fridenstine determined that carbon monoxide sensors in the building had, at some point, registered above-acceptable levels. He ordered all employees to evacuate at 10:50 a.m., and six employees agreed to be evaluated at Memorial Medical Center.

The building houses the county’s Environmental Services Department, Facilities and Parks, and Roads employees. A large vehicle maintenance shop is attached to the northeast quadrant of the building. On an average day, about 20 employees are in the building.

The Las Cruces Fire Department responded to the evacuation and checked possible sources for carbon monoxide contamination, including the building’s heating systems, fumes from the shop area and/or the operation of a steam-cleaning machine. The heating system checked out, and it was determined that neither vehicles nor the steam-cleaning machine were in operation at the time employees reported symptoms. The LCFD found no carbon monoxide in the building and cleared it for occupation again at about 11:20 a.m.

Steve Decker, who oversees all departments within the building, said he suspects that heavy rains Thursday morning may have filled some old oil traps in the shop, creating unpleasant fumes that made employees uncomfortable. He said the drains are no longer in use and will be sealed as a precaution.

Both Decker and Fridenstine said the building is being monitored on a daily basis to determine whether an ongoing health threat exists.

For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.