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Archived News Release from 2004

For Immediate Release

Unknown Substance Released Inside Redwood City Safeway; Only Non Life Threatening Injuries Reported

Redwood City, CA -  September 17, 2004 - Reports of people running out of the Sequoia Station Safeway in Redwood City with respiratory irritation prompted a large-scale response by the Redwood City Fire Department and a host of other local emergency responders.

At 12:15 pm a 9-1-1 call was received reporting that people were running out of the store located on El Camino Real at Jefferson Avenue. Upon arrival the Redwood City Fire Department established that 37 people (both Safeway staff and shoppers) were complaining of severe eye and respiratory irritation, and shortness of breath, apparently due to the release of some kind of irritating substance inside the store. The building was evacuated as fire staff evaluated the injuries. Seventeen people were transported to area hospitals (Stanford, Kaiser, Sequoia, and San Mateo County General), all with what the fire department paramedics described as minor injuries.

Hazardous Materials response crews were unable to determine the substance that was apparently released inside the building, as it had dissipated by the time crews arrived and entered. Redwood City Police Department officials are reviewing the store’s security videotape to possibly determine if anyone purposely released a substance inside the building that might have caused the respiratory irritation that was reported.

In addition to Redwood City Fire and Redwood City Police, other agencies on-site included the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services, County Environmental Health, County Emergency Medical Services, five ambulances, and additional fire crews from Woodside, South County Fire, and Menlo Park. This large-scale response, numbering over three dozen people, is indicative of the level of collaboration and cooperation among emergency services in San Mateo County, and is particularly important in an incident of this nature when multiple injuries are a possibility.

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Battalion Chief Jim Skinner
or on-duty battalion chief
Redwood City Fire Department

Sergeant Sean Hart
Redwood City Police Department

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