What’s a water curtain?

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Fire crews said they used a water curtain to keep gas contained as much as possible to avoid it seeping into homes and businesses Monday at an ammonia spill at the old Tobin’s First Prize.

Michael Romano, the deputy fire coordinator for the Town of Colonie, said that’s when fire crews use a spray of water to form a water wall to dilute any ammonia that would come close to the liquid. This keeps the pungent stuff in the center.

Meanwhile, ammonia is heavier than air, so it sinks to the ground.

It is possible the gas would still slip through the water.

“That was what our hazmat techs were telling us, but we’re hoping to dilute it, so that very strong and pungent odor that everybody was noticing when it first happened — we didn’t want that to happen again — so if it did pass there it would not have been as strong,” Romano said.

Romano said they even used drones with thermal cameras to keep an eye on the cloud. Ammonia would show up as a cold spot on the thermal imaging. He added they had several teams scattered around the area in case it would shift.

“Luckily we didn’t have those high winds I’d say we had like two weeks ago around here,” Romano said. “We just had normal winds, so that played in our favor.”

Romano said they sprayed 1,700 to 2,000 gallons per minute for up to 25 minutes Monday to make this work.

The spill was resolved Monday afternoon.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to Jackson Demolition to confirm what happened and ask if any workers were among those sickened. We have not heard back.