Eight McDonald's Employees Taken to Hospital for Chemical Exposure
All treated and released after fire extinguisher spontaneously discharged
RANDOLPH CENTER, VT - Eight employees of the McDonald's restaurant which sits beside Exit 4 off Interstate 89 ended up being taken by ambulances to the Gifford Medical Center over the noon hour on Wednesday after a dry chemical extinguisher above the griddle in their restaurant's kitchen suddenly discharged without warning.
"I have no idea why it went off. I could not find a logical reason for it," Randolph Center Fire Chief Ken Preston said Wednesday after his volunteer department responded to the automatic fire alarm activation that was tripped when the extinguisher system went off at 11:31 a.m.
Chief Preston said he pulled up to the restaurant a couple of minutes later and learned that while everyone had evacuated the building, not everyone was feeling well. Symptoms ranged from headaches and nausea to itchy skin and dry eyes and although two of the employees appeared to be in more distress than the others, the chief said it was quickly decided to "err on the side of caution" and transport all eight of the employees who'd been inside the McDonald's to the hospital to be checked out.
"It's a commercial chemical that is widely used and approved and it's not supposed to be harmful," Preston said, adding that although the restaurant was closed to customers immediately after the incident it was expected to open in time for dinner, just as soon as crews had a chance to clean up the kitchen area and ensure that it had been returned to standard health department requirements for operation.
In addition to a fire engine and a water tanker, ambulance crews from White River Valley Ambulance and South Royalton Rescue responded to the scene.
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