Agencies respond to evacuate Rock Hall apartment building
ROCK HALL — Multiple agencies worked to clear an apartment building of a harmful pesticide and provide temporary shelter for residents Oct. 10 on Chesapeake Villa Drive in Rock Hall.
An Oct. 11 entry on the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company’s blog states that responders were dispatched at 7:15 p.m. due to an “odor” inside the Chesapeake Villa Apartment building.
Speaking Tuesday, Norman Davidson of Upper Shore Aging Inc. said the complex is managed by Upper Shore Aging Housing Corp. and owned by Rock Hall Elderly Housing Inc.
He said the building has 30 apartments, with a mix of residents who are 62 years or older and residents with disabilities.
The fire company’s blog states crews arriving at the building Oct. 10 and started investigating the source of the smell and the state of the ventilation.
“The long and short of it is a maintenance man errantly used an outside insect spray in the downstairs corridor, when he really shouldn’t have,” Davidson said. “He did so to get rid of the crickets that come in through the door.”
He identified the pesticide as malathion, a common insecticide that can be purchased at hardware stores and is intended for outdoor use only.
The fire company’s blog states that due to not having enough information about the product or how much was applied, firefighters encouraged residents to evacuate their apartments.
“Interested occupants were evacuated to the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company, where a temporary shelter with emergency personnel and volunteers was set up,” the entry states.
A bus was reportedly used to take residents to the firehouse.
Davidson said while some people on the lower level left, most tenants stayed in the apartment building and “just closed their doors.”
The entry states the Maryland Department of the Environment arrived to assist the investigation. One occupant had to be transported to Shore Medical Center at Chestertown for “symptoms related to the incident” and other occupants were examined at the scene.
“I don’t know about anyone taken to the hospital,” said Davidson, who responded later in the evening to the scene.
The blog states firefighters, MDE personnel and apartment maintenance staff worked to remove the pesticide from the building. Once the scene was cleared, the residents at the temporary shelter were allowed to return to their apartments.
Davidson said only portions of the building’s hallway were affected by the pesticide and that they were rinsed with water and an extractor.
“The hallways were ventilated with fans, almost to the point where you couldn’t smell it at all,” he said.
Davidson said the agencies left about 10 p.m., while he stayed behind to ensure all the residents made it back to their apartments.
“A special thank you to all the volunteers at the shelter and Eric Vansant, who offered bus transporting to and from the shelter,” the blog states.