A ticket counter at Fresno Yosemite International Airport was closed on Thursday after a white powder was found that allegedly sickened six people, according to Fresno County Emergency Medical Services.
Six patients were evaluated, said Daniel Lynch, Fresno County Emergency Medical Services director.
“They are feeling some sort of illness,” Lynch said.
He said the complaints ranged from headaches, nausea and tightness in the throat.
“It’s not consistent with all six,” he said.
According to police scanner reports, investigators were focusing on a boarding pass that had been thrown into a trash bin. The person who left the boarding pass was met in Seattle by investigators. He told them that the powder was soap that had gotten on his clothing, Lynch said.
Five people had decided to go through a decontamination process that includes showering on site and further evaluation by paramedics to determine if anyone would go to a hospital, said Lynch.
Fresno firefighters were sent to the airport at 11:31 a.m. in response to a report of an unknown white powder.
Mark Standriff, Fresno city spokesman, said the closure was limited to the ticket counter for Alaska Airlines. He said the terminal remained open and flights were going in and out unimpeded.
Two of those sickened were Horizon Airlines employees. Alaska Airlines ticket services were moved to a nearby desk. Horizon contracts with Alaska Airlines. Everything else continued operating normally, officials said.
Monica Sigala, 47, of Fresno, said she had been waiting since about 1 p.m. to pick up luggage coming Los Angeles that was sent from Miami, where she attended the Major League Baseball All-Star game. She had her baggage sent later.
“I’m not even sure it’s back there,” she said. “(The workers) said they can’t check to see if the luggage is back there because they said that it’s quarantined.”
Sigala said she was told there was a spill and even the workers couldn’t go into the area being cleaned up.
“It’s just an inconvenience,” she said.
Dianne Julian, a courier for Right Now Couriers, was picking up a package from Dallas. She said she “very rarely” experiences an incident such as Thursday’s.
But she said the quarantine of luggage or packages is a proper measure to be safe. She always needs to make sure what she picks up is properly sealed and clean.
“If it’s leaking, I can’t take it,” she said.
Julian said she was also told that someone had thrown up at the Alaska Airlines ticket desk.