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Seven hospitalized after toxic exposure incident at Shari's in Hillsboro

Hillsboro Fire & Rescue said callers reported coughing, a burning sensation in their eyes and a strange taste in their mouths.
Credit: (Courtesy: Hillsboro Fire)
Seven people were taken to a hospital following a toxic exposure incident at Shari's on Northwest 185th Avenue in Hillsboro, Ore. Saturday, May 15.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Seven people were taken to a hospital Saturday morning following a toxic exposure incident at Shari's Cafe and Pies in Hillsboro, according to Hillsboro Fire & Rescue.

HF&R said fire crews were dispatched to the restaurant on Northwest 185th Avenue near the Tualatin Hills Park facility around 9:15 a.m.

The incident happened while people were eating inside. Customers reported a strong smell, followed by coughing, a burning sensation in their eyes and a strange taste in their mouths, officials said.

The restaurant was evacuated and crews searched through the building with protective gear and gas monitoring equipment to find the source. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue's Hazmat team assisted with the response. 

Fire investigators said the cause appears to be an issue with the building's HVAC unit mounted to the roof. They are working with the manufacturer to identify the toxic agent and how it got released. 

No foul play is suspected, HF&R said.

Twenty-six people were assessed and seven of them were taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. HF&R said their symptoms did not appear life-threatening. 

A total of 42 firefighters and paramedics and eight ambulances were on scene. 

Officials said Shari's would be closed while the problem was addressed.