Customers of a Rochester grocery store were shepherded out into the bitter cold because of a refrigerant leak this afternoon.

Rochester Fire Department Battalion Chief Eric Kerska says firefighters responded to the HyVee Crossroads just before 1 PM and learned the store was filling with gas spewing from a refrigerant line that had broken. An evacuation order issued because R22 refrigerant displaces oxygen and high enough levels of the gas can result in asphyxiation.

Police officers at the scene directed the store’s employees to the nearby Panera business while firefighters shut off a valve in the compressor room and stopped the leak. The store was allowed to reopen about 40 minutes later after the refrigerant was ventilated from the building. No injuries were reported.

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