By Steve Hubrecht

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An ammonia leak on Remembrance Day at the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena resulted in a hockey game being halted and the players and the crowded evacuated.

The event occurred on Friday, November 11 during a Columbia Valley Rockies hockey game. The Rockies were playing the Kamloops Storm. There was just one minute remaining in the game, which was tied 1-1, when the ammonia alarm went off.

Emergency crews responded immediately as arena staff helped conduct an evacuation of everybody at the arena.

“It was handled extremely well. I give kudos to our staff at the arena, to the fire department and to the RCMP. The place was cleared out in a very orderly, well-organized way, and a complete sweep was made to ensure everybody was out,” Invermere mayor (and Rockies volunteer) Al Miller, told the Pioneer. 

Miller explained Invermere fire chief Jason Roe was onsite swiftly, checking the alarm system and added Roe then brought in other members of the local fire department, as well as the Columbia Valley RCMP for backup.

“It was not a false alarm, there was a problem,” said Miller.

There was leak was coming from a heat floor component inside the arena’s refrigeration plant. The system was shut off immediately, and a contractor did the necessary repair work as soon as possible, on Saturday, Nov. 12.

“If it had continued it could have become a big problem, but fortunately they were able to get to it very quickly,’ said Miller. 

“We have an emergency response plan that lays out our response any time we have an alarm. Our staff and emergency responders did an excellent job of following the plan, activating the emergency response, clearing the building, determining the cause of the alarm and working to safely remedy it,” added Kevin Paterson, Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) environmental services manager.

The remainder of the Rockies game was rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 13. The score remained tied, and the game went to a shootout, which the Rockies lost.