LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Louisville Metro Fire Department along with LG&E were called out around 7:30 Tuesday morning because natural gas could be smelled inside the Humana building at 1st and Main Streets.
One of the employees said, “I was getting dropped from work I tried to go in and the door was closed. Then a guy told me we have a gas leak. Everybody had to evacuate the building.”
According to LG&E, Humana workers were doing maintenance on a boiler and had purged a gas line that feeds into it in order to safely perform the work. Some of the gas then circulated into the HVAC system.
Captain Sal Melendez said, “All the floors were kind of smelling it at the same time, which it was you know chaotic in the beginning with the employees.”
About 4,000 Humana employees inside the building had to evacuate to Waterfront Park for two hours.
Firefighters said they did find traces of gas inside the building, but the levels were not dangerous. Around 9:30 a.m., firefighters reported all levels of gas were gone and employees were allowed to return to work.
But around 10:30 a.m., ambulances and fire trucks arrived back at the scene. Fire officials said there were reports that people on the third floor of the building were feeling symptoms of heat exhaustion.
There were a total of 11 people taken to area hospitals. EMS officials said most of the people who treated felt nauseous or had a headache. All employees were given the option to take paid leave for the remainder of the day, officials said.
Humana officials released the following statement:
"After conducting multiple tests on each floor of the Humana Waterside building, the Louisville Fire Department informed Humana earlier today that the air is clear throughout the building, with no evidence of natural gas. Humana associates have been back to work inside the building since 9:30 a.m. -- except on the 3rd floor, which Humana temporarily re-evacuated late this morning after some associates on the floor reported feeling ill. That floor has also since reopened, after assurances from the Fire Department that the air on the floor was clear."
"Humana's first and foremost concern during events such as this is the health and safety of our associates. We continue to closely monitor the health of our associates who were either transported to the hospital or who were treated onsite by EMS."