7 hospitalized after ammonia leak in Streamwood food processing complex

STREAMWOOD, Ill. -- Fire officials responded to a fire alarm activation Monday night at a large industrial complex at 1109 East Lake Street.

The industrial complex has been identified as The Fresh Express. It processes food including packaged salads and vegetables.

Upon arrival, fire officials were notified by Fresh Express personnel that a large ammonia leak from the refrigerator system had taken place.

Employees were in the building when the leak occurred and proceeded to evacuate, said fire officials. Several employees complained of breathing difficulty and five were transported to Saint Alexius Hospital for treatment. Two firefighters that were exposed to the vapors were also transported to the hospital for evaluation.

The alarm was elevated to a Level 2 Hazardous Material incident, bringing all hazmat technicians from the general northwest suburbs to the scene.

The Hazmat technicians donned fully-encapsulated suits and entered the building to measure ammonia levels and assess damage.

The incident is complex and technicians are expected to be on scene for several hours ventilating the building to lower the chemical levels, said fire officials.