CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Employees at a southwest Charlotte business park said the building was evacuated Friday after people became sick for a second day in a row.
Officials said a smell from roof construction caused dozens of people to get sick Thursday at the building on Regency Executive Park Drive off Nations Ford Road.
Paramedics said they evaluated 27 people and took five people to the hospital Friday morning. They're all expected to be OK.
One employee said she wants a resolution.
"I don't feel this is a safe environment for people to be working in, with people sick and it's hard to breathe. It's hot in there. I don't feel it's safe," the employee, who didn't want to be identified, said.
Firefighters said they responded Thursday to the building around 11 a.m. for a medical call and started getting reports of more patients. That's when they called in a hazmat team and evacuated the building.
“There were employees being wheeled out by first responders with gurneys in their office chairs,” said employee Yolanda Cato.
People inside the building said they smelled a burning odor.
“Oh, you smelled it. As soon as you walked through the door, you smell it. It hits you, and it’s strong,” said employee Amari Johnson.
Another employee who didn't want to be identified said, "It's like the cloudiness started coming. The taste in your mouth after a couple of hours, you start getting nauseated."
The Charlotte Fire Department said it appears construction crews were laying tar on the roof and the smell was pulled through the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“It’s something you’re inhaling, so you don’t know what type of effect it is having on you,“ said employee Danielle Martinburl.
Paramedics said they evaluated a total of 34 patients Thursday. Most of the people were complaining of headaches and nausea. Officials said five people were taken to the hospital but are expected to be OK.
Fire officials said they tested the building and found no hazardous chemicals.
“That odor from the tar is being sucked in through the HVAC system, so it's being dispersed through the building, so if you’re not used to smelling that, it can cause brief nausea,” said CFD Capt Dennis Gist.
The company, Westmed, released the following statement:
"The Westmed Contact Center in Charlotte, NC, was closed July 11, 2019 for an investigation into an unknown odor, which is now suspected to have been caused by nearby building maintenance.
As of this morning, July 12, 2019, the building’s safety has been cleared by officials at the highest level.
Employee wellbeing is our chief concern, and the Westmed Practice Partners team has taken all precaution to ensure personnel operating out of the NC office remain in a safe environment following this incident."
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