Several businesses were evacuated, and four people evaluated, after carbon monoxide was detected Monday afternoon at Columbia Square, the strip mall anchored by Chuck’s Produce in east Vancouver.
Emergency crews were dispatched at 4:25 p.m. to 13215 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. Readings revealed carbon monoxide levels were above normal, Vancouver firefighter-spokeswoman Eva Scherer said. The four people evaluated for symptoms of exposure declined transport to a hospital.
The call originated from an alarm at a Supercuts barbershop, and nine businesses were affected, Scherer said. Chuck’s Produce was not among the businesses evacuated.
An “oily” or exhaust-like odor was reported, said Bob Sisson, owner of Kazoodles toy store at the east end of the shopping mall. Sisson said it appeared the issue started inside a vacant storefront near Supercuts. Workers left the space about 3:30 p.m.
A NW Natural utility crew arrived a few minutes afterward and detected the carbon monoxide, Scherer said. The fire department was called to help with evacuations.
After an engine arrived on the scene and learned of the four potential patients, two additional engines and a battalion chief responded, Scherer said.
A hazardous materials team searched the shopping mall for a source of the carbon monoxide. Fire crews forced entry into the vacant storefront and determined the odor came from concrete being cut, Scherer said. The odor spread to other businesses through a ventilation system on the roof of the mall.
Crews aired out storefronts and then closed them again to confirm that there was no gas leak, Scherer said. When carbon monoxide levels didn’t rise, they continued the ventilation.
Crews cleared the scene around at 6:30 p.m.