Warehouse Fumes in Lincoln Heights Send 17 to Hospital

Sunday, November 04, 2012 |

LINCOLN HEIGHTS - Fumes sickened eighteen workers at a massive Lincoln Heights warehouse operated by a fashion retailer on Sunday morning, sending seventeen to the hospital for non-life threatening illness.

The Los Angeles Fire Department was initially summoned at 9:53 AM on November 4, 2012 to investigate one person ill at the 'Forever 21' distribution center, located at 3880 North Mission Road in Lincoln Heights.

Learning that a foul odor within the expansive complex may have caused the one woman to take ill - and others to experience sudden malaise, the first arriving LAFD crew escalated the incident to a hazardous materials investigation, ultimately bringing 102 Fire Department responders, including an LAFD Hazardous Materials Task Force, to assist the scores of employees working in the nearly 2 million square foot warehouse and adjoining offices.

Establishing a command post uphill and upwind of the business, Battalion Chief Al Ward coordinated the prompt effort to assist the ill and identify the source of the irritating odor.

Though the vast majority of a hundred-or-more workers were without symptoms, LAFD Paramedics quickly triaged employees to isolate eighteen experiencing headache, nausea and vomiting. Of the 18, one declined further medical care, and was released at the scene. The remaining seventeen were taken by Fire Department ambulance to regional hospitals in good to fair condition. No other injuries were reported.

LAFD Hazardous Materials experts, fully clad in protective gear, soon determined a concern verbalized by workers of a "cleaning solution" placed in a dumpster not to be the irritant.

Using sophisticated handheld sensors and hazardous product identification tools, the well-trained LAFD HazMat Team continued a meticulous search of the premises to determine that fumes from an earlier roof repair involving adhesives, as well as vapor from spray painting of a large basement area, were drawn into the building's ventilation system, causing the sudden odor sensed by distant employees.

Pursuant of protocol, LAFD requested the County of Los Angeles Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division to conclude the investigation and formally declare the industrial building fit to be reoccupied.
Dispatched Units: E47 RA1 RA2 E17 E221 E21 T21 SQ21 EM1 BC2 E12 RA21 RA17 RA12 RA844 RA25 RA804 RA4 RA3 RA209 EM11 EM13 BC11 RA9 EA1 DC1 E2 E201 T1 E15 T10 E210 BC1 E202 T2 BC5 BC18 RA821 RA47 RA15 RA20 CM3 T15 E215
Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


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