- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Phoenix-area emergency animal hospital was evacuated for about nine hours Thursday as hazardous-materials crew checked the facility and then cleared it to be reopened.

Staff at the 24-hour clinic operated by BluePearl Veterinary Partners reported a possible problem involving an odor at about 1:30 a.m. The Gilbert facility was cleared for reopening at about 10:30 a.m.

The Gilbert Fire and Rescue Department said there was no longer a hazard but that officials were continuing to investigate.

Company spokesman Curtis Krueger said the sick and injured pets in the hospital - 14 dogs and 1 cat - apparently suffered no ill effects from the incident. They were relocated to other facilities after being evacuated by crews wearing protective suits.

Deputy Fire and Rescue Chief Josh Ehrman said crews early on ruled out a possible natural gas leak, but he said their equipment noted something hazardous in the air inside the building,

Ehrman said the investigation centered on a possible leak of ethylene oxide, which Krueger and an OSHA fact sheet says is used to sterilize medical equipment.

The OSHA fact sheet said acute exposure can cause respiratory irritation, lung injury and other health problems.

Ehrman said one concern was that the chemical might have mixed with another substance.

Crews from several other agencies helped Gilbert respond to the incident.

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