North Iowa works together after Northwood evacuation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

North Iowa works together after Northwood evacuation

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Crews battle fire at Northwood Ag Products at the Northwood Municipal Airport Crews battle fire at Northwood Ag Products at the Northwood Municipal Airport
Kensett Community Center Kensett Community Center
Water and portable restrooms delivered to community center Water and portable restrooms delivered to community center

NORTHWOOD, Iowa (KTTC) -- Residents are returning home after a chemical fire in Northwood, Iowa, caused a temporary evacuation of the city on Thursday.

Residents say the fire could be smelled for nearly a mile.
 
"Kind of like rotten eggs, I don't know. I haven't smelled anything like that before except in school during chemistry stuff," said Northwood resident Paul Hogan. 

Though tough to see through the morning fog, a haze of smoke and potentially dangerous chemicals hung over the city of Northwood.

"Then the wind switched and it came onto the town of Northwood real fast," Hogan said. 

A building containing fertilizer caught fire, prompting the evacuation of nearly 2,000 Northwood residents. 

Northwood Mayor Jane Bloomingdale said the evacuation was precautionary.

"They thought there was potential for danger, and they thought it was smart to take precautionary measures and evacuate the community," she said. 

As if the situation wasn't already enough, the snow really started to pick up at about 12:30 p.m. making it all the more urgent and difficult to get supplies and people to designated shelter areas. 

As the snow piled up outside, the attitude inside emergency shelters in the nearby town of Kensett remained relatively sunny. 

"It's one big party. They did a good job, made everyone comfortable," said Lorenzo Hines, also of Northwood.  

Residents say the organization couldn't have been better. 

"Those who didn't have transportation went to the courthouse and they had buses and they're just doing such a good job," said Leila Gangstad as she knitted in one of the shelters.

"You get nervous if someone comes to you nervous. They came, they were calm, they did a great job," said Hines. 

Volunteers from across north Iowa brought in the essential and loaded up cots in the event that the evacuation would last through the night. 

"Fire departments from all over the area. Kensett, manly, St. Ansgar, Lake Mills, Mason City," Mayor Bloomingdale said of the help from all over the northern Iowa area. 

"That's a small town community, that's just what people do here. Small town, you help everybody out, especially in a crisis like this," Resident Paul Hogan said. 

Four people were treated after the incident at a local hospital. The evacuation order was lifted about 3 p.m. and volunteers used buses to shuttle residents back into town. 

 The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

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