Fire officials said they could not determine the source of a chemical smell at a storage locker that caused minor respiratory symptoms for three people and closed 19th Street for several hours Tuesday, July 12.
Three people were treated for sore throats and chest tightness in the incident at K Mini Storage & Mail, 413 19th St., said Lynden Fire Chief Gary Baar. None of the affected people required further examination, he said, but the street was closed for several hours to allow fire crews access to the building.
Whatcom County’s multi-agency hazardous materials team was summoned as a precaution.
“We searched every storage unit,” Baar said. “One unit seemed a little bit suspicious, but it happened to be nothing serious.”
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Baar was among the first firefighters at the scene and described the odor as akin to bleach or insecticide. He and other firefighters immediately donned their protective clothing, face masks and air packs, he said.
Haz-mat team members wore full protective “moon suits” to conduct their search. Some 30 firefighters and others worked at the scene.
Crews from Lynden Fire Department and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue responded to reports of a strange chemical smell at 12:35 p.m. Tuesday, said Lynden Fire Assistant Chief Robert Spinner.
Firefighters could not determine what caused the smell after an initial inspection, Spinner said, and detectors did not alert them to any dangerous materials. Officials didn’t evacuate besides the building itself, but 19th Street between Main and Front streets remain closed until the investigation was complete about 7 p.m.., Spinner said.Firefighters and haz-mat crews staged their vehicles across the street at Farmers Equipment Co. and the street was closed so crews could move back and forth freely, Baar said.