Monday, June 18, 2018
Public safety

Largo police investigating cause of respiratory distress after building evacuation

LARGO — Nearly 100 people were evacuated and three of them hospitalized after a hazardous materials call inside a building Tuesday afternoon.

About 4 p.m., Largo Fire Rescue received a call about eight people having respiratory problems at the Florida Department of Children and Families office inside the Mary Grizzle building at 11351 Ulmerton Road.

Dozens of firefighters, including Pinellas County's hazardous materials team, responded and evacuated the building.

Eight adults were treated at the scene, and three of them were taken to local hospitals for mild respiratory issues that were not life threatening, said Largo Fire Rescue assistant chief Doug Swartz.

Swartz said the cause of the incident was still under investigation, but added the kind of symptoms exhibited by patients suggest someone may have sprayed mace or tear gas inside the office.

People inside the DCF office told police that their symptoms emerged after a man wearing a slightly open backpack left the office. Police were trying Tuesday to identify the man and determine if he was responsible, said Largo police Lt. Paul Amodeo.

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