Author Topic: Stench from rotten refrigerator sickens 28; San Jose office evacuated  (Read 1471 times)

Offline AJ

  • Technician
    Administrator
  • Member Since: Jun 2007
  • Posts: 9436
  • Country: us
    • ApplianceJunk.com - Appliance Repair
By Bruce Newman, Mercury News

It had been somebody's lunch once. Or maybe a soft-cheese snack, tucked away and then forgotten in the back of an office mini-fridge at the AT&T call center in North San Jose.

That was long ago, before figs become fur-bearing and corned beef mutates into stink on rye. Nobody really knows what it was in the offending refrigerator that prompted an evacuation Tuesday morning and ambulance rides to the hospital for seven people, who were overcome by the stench and fumes from an ill-fated attempt to clean it.

It finally became so unbearable that the San Jose Fire Department's hazmat team was summoned to the North First Street office complex just before lunchtime. Before they could determine that it wasn't an attempt by terrorists to disable the information grid maybe just some broccoli from the Bush administration gone really, really bad a second alarm was issued.

In the end, 325 AT&T employees poured out to a parking lot that was the company's designated evacuation site. A total of 50 firefighters and 18 emergency vehicles raced to the scene. Seven employees, who were vomiting or complaining of nausea, were treated at area hospitals.

The aroma of rotting food was hard enough to stomach. But when an employee decided to remove the mess to a conference room and scour the fridge with a cleaning fluid similar to 409 or Lysol, "she didn't smell a thing," said Capt. Barry Stallard of the fire department.

The woman on fridge duty had previously undergone nasal surgery for allergies.

Adding to the noxious mix, another employee sprayed a different chemical cleaner into the air, assuming it would temper the scent, Stallard said. "And that's when the party started."

The combination of chemicals was an obvious no-no.

But the big question? What was that in the fridge? AT&T employees weren't revealing. Something about a gag order.

Stallard, who had a good whiff, admits he forgot to ask. But it may have been meat, because this had the familiar smell of, well, decomposition. "A steak and a dog and a person, when they all start to rot, it's a horrible thing," said Stallard, who has inhaled his share of all of those in 23 years of firefighting.

Twenty-eight people with functioning noses had to be checked out by paramedics after they were overcome by fumes.

"One of our top priorities, along with keeping people connected, is safety," said AT&T spokesman John Britton.

At first, AT&T officials worried they had a mysterious hazmat situation when somebody called 911 at 11:54 a.m. to report that an odor in the building was making people sick. The hazmat team found no toxins, Stallard said. The fridge fairy led authorities to the odor on the second floor.

Despite the disruptions, even AT&T employees found humor in the bizarre pre-lunch break, joking with fire crews to return about 2:30 Friday afternoon to get them out of work, Stallard said.

And despite the noxious in-your-nasal-passage reminder, Stallard said he for one didn't rush back to the firehouse to check the back of the fridge.

"We clean it on a regular basis," he said. "With 50 people using the same fridge, you can only imagine what gets left behind. The last time I poured some milk out, some big lumps came out."

By Bruce Newman, Mercury News
Hope you find our site helpful.

Offline JWWebster

  • Technician
  • Member Since: Jan 2008
  • Posts: 8781
  • Country: us
  • SublimeMasterJW
    • Buy me a beer through paypal
    • JW's Sublime Appliance Advice
My old boss use to give away turkeys at thanksgiving with every sale. One year a man purchased a ice box on time and defaulted his agreement. It was not until several months later were we able to get into the mans house to repo the ice box. During that time the power was shut down too. I gotta tell you that is the only ice box I repo'd that had the turkey still in it!
Now that was wank.
May the hinges of our friendship
        never grow rusty.

About the icons: The beer is tip link, if a tech saves ya some money buy em a 6 pack. The small green square=personal message. The green dot is a link to my web page on appliance repair and other general BS I love to post. The letter sends me email.
I love fan letters! LOL

 

Repair Guide: Whirlpool Refrigerator - Water in bottom of fridge under drawers.

Started by AJ

Replies: 3
Views: 86250
Last post July 08, 2007, 12:04:06 PM
by curtis
GE refrigerator/freezer

Started by MajorApp

Replies: 7
Views: 4902
Last post May 21, 2008, 05:44:45 AM
by Repair-man
kenmore refrigerator model # 52552100 no ice

Started by davelita

Replies: 6
Views: 11720
Last post August 04, 2007, 03:24:08 PM
by AJ
Kitchen Aid Refrigerator KSRS27QBL01

Started by texan2

Replies: 5
Views: 3526
Last post August 11, 2007, 06:30:49 AM
by AJ
Video: How to clear a Whirlpool made Refrigerator Defrost Drain Tube.

Started by AJ

Replies: 2
Views: 18987
Last post August 11, 2007, 09:38:43 AM
by AJ
Kenmore refrigerator - how remove ice/water dispenser front panel

Started by Marvster

Replies: 1
Views: 24634
Last post August 11, 2007, 08:06:07 PM
by AJ