St. Helens store reopened after HazMat scare

St. Helens store reopened after HazMat scare

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by KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on March 8, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 11 at 9:09 AM

ST. HELENS, Ore. -- Officials said they were unable to find out what made customers sick at the St. Helens Safeway on Wednesday.

The store was evacuated Wednesday due to a HazMat emergency and then it was reopened early Thursday morning.

Fire crews directed about 30 customers who may have been sickened to a triage area on South Columbia River Highway.

Columbia County Fire and Rescue spokesman Jay Tappan said it did not appear to be a hysterical chain reaction. He says in the security video, people were all acting normally before they began coughing.

There was the possibility of some type of gas leak that originated in the deli counter area. People initially reported headaches and difficulty breathing. One man was taken to the hospital.

"I felt a tickle in my throat at first and everyone started coughing," said shopper Jeanette Johnston.

Most said they felt better once outside.

There were no serious injuries.

Tests done in the store showed no signs of any toxins or contamination.

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