Boulder retirement home evacuated after possible hazmat situation - America News

Boulder retirement home evacuated after possible hazmat situation

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Authorities move people back from the entrance to the Mesa Vista retirement home during a possible hazmat situation on Wednesday in Boulder.
Authorities move people back from the entrance to the Mesa Vista retirement home during a possible hazmat situation on Wednesday in Boulder. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)

Boulder police say that someone released bear spray inside the Mesa Vista retirement home on Wednesday afternoon, prompting fire crews to evacuate 18 people from the building.

Police spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh said one person asked to be taken to Boulder Community Health's Foothills Hospital as a precaution, but the person did not have life-threatening injuries.

The HVAC system inside the four-story building at 2121 Mesa Drive was shut off, and fire crews were checking rooms to make sure there were no issues with bear spray residue in the vents before the HVAC was turned back on, Aulabaugh said.

While 18 people on the first floor were taken out of the building, the people on the remaining three floors sheltered in place and no mass evacuation of the building happened, Aulabaugh said.

Police radio traffic indicated that someone called 911 to say a receptionist found a water bottle with orange liquid inside and opened. The caller said the receptionist and everyone in the area became sick as a result. The woman who opened the bottle also reportedly turned orange and had difficutly breathing.

Firefighters used a hose to wash off at least one employee — who was later seen climbing into an ambulance — in front of the building and taped off the parking lot. A nearby resident who didn't give his name said he was leaving his house as a precaution.

Aulabaugh said that investigators determined that the bottle and orange liquid didn't have anything to do with the bear spray, and police are now investigating to determine why bear spray was released in the building and whether it involved any criminal activity.

The woman who opened the bottle began to also turn orange and reportedly had trouble breathing, according to police radio traffic. An officer or firefighter on scene also indicated she was having trouble breathing while in the building.

Police closed 19th Street from Mesa Drive to Bluff Street and multiple ambulances were parked along the street on standby.

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars.