Cleaning chemical mishap sends 5 VCS workers to hospital for evaluation

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Unable to get in, shoppers leave the Vermont Country Store, which was closed for a hazmat incident. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

Shortly before noon on Sunday Feb. 18, the Weston Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to a call that was initially described as smoke in a section of the Vermont Country Store.

On arrival, the firefighters found chlorine gas instead. Five store employees were taken to the hospital for evaluation.

According to Weston Fire Chief Brian Lundberg, two or three chemicals may have been inadvertently mixed in a bucket or on cleaning equipment to create the gas in the warehouse at the back of the store complex. Of the five employees who were directly exposed to the gas, three showed symptoms from exposure but all five were taken to Springfield Hospital for evaluation by Londonderry Volunteer Rescue Squad ambulances.

Weston Fire Chief Brian Lundberg talks his firefighters and those from South Londonderry.

By 1:15, Lundberg described his firefighters as being in a “holding pattern,” with the store closed for the day awaiting a hazardous materials cleanup crew and approval from the state health department to reopen. Lundberg said that the a health inspector would decide whether open containers food, including cheeses and candies, would need to be disposed of.

The Champion Fire Company of South Londonderry was also on scene and there were no reported injuries among the firefighters.

Firefighters left the scene at 2:14 p.m.

This was the second time in a week that firefighters were called to the Vermont Country Store in Weston. Last Wednesday an electrical breaker began smoking and sparking and the building was evacuated.

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