Several businesses on the outskirts of Estevan had to be evacuated yesterday due to a leak of hazardous materials. The Estevan Fire Department were called out to the scene at about 1:30 in the afternoon and arrived at the business east of Estevan just inside the RM.

"The company that reported the leak had taken the opportunity to ensure the surrounding businesses were evacuated to make sure everyone was accounted for," said Fire Chief Dale Feser. "What had happened was, in the process of decanting an odorant called mercaptan, it actually spilled and caused quite the odor to occur."

You may not have heard of mercaptan but you're likely familiar with the smell of it. According to Feser, mercaptan is added to natural gas or methane to help people smell the gas if a leak is occurring. 

"We were able to get on-site there and confirm that it was a rather small leak," he said. "However, Sask Energy assisted in providing a neutralizing agent, which firefighters applied. Then we brought the scene to a successful mitigation and the product and the container that it was in was removed and disposed of accordingly."

Feser thanked Sask Energy for a quick response, and praised the company in question as well for moving quickly to get everyone out of potential harm's way. Firefighters had another ally in shutting this leak down as well: the cold weather. 

"It's always better to deal with it in colder environments," Feser said. "Obviously that's going to keep the (vapors) down to a minimum and your ignition sources are kept down to a minimum as well. When we're dealing with that, that is definitely something that aids us in the mitigation process."

Another leak brought out the fire department later yesterday night. This time, at around 8:00 in the evening, they got a report of a propane leak in the central area of the city. The building in question was under construction. 

"A construction heater, the flame had blown out but the propane continued to fill the room," said Feser. "A quick-thinking off-duty police officer who happened to be in the building at the time was quick to alert 911 and the fire department and ensure everyone was evacuated from the building."

Feser added crews were able to secure the leak in short order and ventilate the building. He also said in both cases a quick reaction, including an immediate call to 911 and an evacuation of people who might've been in danger, made the fire department's job a lot easier.