Spokane Mall Evacuated for Fumes

Hundreds of people were evacuated from a mall Sunday afternoon after noxious fumes of unknown origin sickened people inside, fire officials said.

KREM-TV reported late Sunday night that 37 people had sought treatment at area hospitals. Spokane police called the fumes a "possible chemical irritant," but officials were unsure what the irritant was.

Of those seeking treatment, 32 went to Holy Family Hospital and another four went to Sacred Heart Medical Center. Most complaints were about eye, nose and throat irritation.

None of the conditions were considered life threatening, Fire Chief Bobby Williams told The Spokesman-Review.

Hazardous materials crews were investigating the cause of the fumes. Shoppers and mall employees were told it was either a gas leak or pepper spray, the newspaper reported. Utility company Avista told KREM-TV they had not been called to the mall and said it was not a gas leak.

The mall was evacuated about 3:30 p.m. and closed for the day. Spokane police and firefighters blocked off mall entrances and placed yellow emergency tape across the doors. Mall employees were allowed to go back in to close up their stores, but shoppers were kept out.

Mall security officials said a typical Sunday at this time of the year has a few hundred shoppers in the mall, the newspaper reported.

KREM-TV said the mall was expected to reopen at 10 a.m. Monday.


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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