St. Helens Safeway evacuated, breathing problems reported - KPTV - FOX 12

St. Helens Safeway evacuated, breathing problems reported

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A hazmat team is at the scene of a Safeway store in St. Helens that has been evacuated.

Firefighters said some kind of inhalant caused about 30 people to experience difficulty breathing and other discomfort. Emergency crews were called to the scene at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

"I just started coughing and I felt a tickle in my throat," said customer Jeanette Johnston.

"Then I noticed that everyone around me started coughing one after another, that's when I realized something was seriously happening."

One man was transported to a Portland area hospital as a precaution.

Customers were ushered to the Rent-A-Center next door, where they were treated by paramedics.

Most reported having trouble breathing, chest pains, and a tickle in their throat even hours after the incident.

"I still have a really bad headache and a scratchy throat," said customer Becky Hamshire.

"They haven't told us anything about what it is yet, other than to say we should wash our clothes when we get home."   

Investigators said the situation is not considered life-threatening to anybody involved and the fresh air helped many people.

It's not yet clear what caused the incident or when the store will reopen.

Fire crews say they are currently checking surveillance video, in hopes it points them in the right direction.

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