Mystery smell sends 12 workers at Sanger food plant to hospital

The Fresno BeeMay 23, 2014 

— Twelve employees at a Del Monte plant here were taken to area hospitals Friday after a mysterious smell had them complaining of dizziness and shortness of breath.

It wasn't clear what caused the pepper-like smell in the break area at 1:30 p.m., but hazardous material teams did not find anything noxious, said Sanger fire Chief Greg Tarascou.

None of the injuries was considered serious, said Daniel Lynch, Fresno County Emergency Medical Services director.

Another 40 people were evaluated by medical professionals and the entire shift, more than 200 people, was evacuated. They were all sent home after workers, who were dressed for the fruit-processing plant's cool temperatures, began having issues standing outside in the afternoon heat, Tarascou said.

Roads were blocked off near the plant at Academy and North avenues, but reopened shortly before 4 p.m.

The Sanger Fire Department, Cal Fire and American Red Cross officials, as well as firefighters from other agencies, answering a mutual-aid call, responded to the plant.

Four patients each went to hospitals in Selma and Reedley. Four more were taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

Staff writer Hannah Furfaro contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, bclough@fresnobee.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter.

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