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Odor prompts courthouse evacuation
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The Stanislaus County Superior courthouse had to be cleared Tuesday morning for what was thought to be a gas leak.
The strong odor wafting through the courthouse turned out to be from a chlorine-based cleaning agent used on the air-conditioning units, according to Court Executive Officer Michael Tozzi.
“It smelled like a gas leak,” Tozzi said. “It was pungent enough to get everybody’s attention.”
The order to evacuate the building was given just after 10 a.m. by the Modesto Fire Department. The courthouse remained closed for about one hour while a hazardous materials team and a crew from Pacific Gas and Electric sought the source of the odor.
Around 11:15 a.m., the air in the courthouse had been cleared by the team and the courthouse was re-opened, Tozzi said.
The inmates scheduled for court appearances were all escorted back to the jail during the evacuation, Tozzi said.
Tozzi said the evacuation order proceeded smoothly for everyone in the courthouse.
“There was no panic,” he said. “Everyone was orderly and in good spirits.”
In the future, maintenance will notify court officials beforehand when they are going to clean the ventilation systems, Tozzi said.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.