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Wasilla shopping center open again after 7 people hospitalized due to hazmat exposure

Members of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough's hazmat team...
Members of the Central Mat-Su Fire Department and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough's hazmat team respond to the Clock Tower shopping center on Friday, April 30, 2021 in Wasilla, Alaska for a report of people feeling ill. At least six people were taken to the hospital.(Rachel McPherron/KTUU)
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 8:29 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 3, 2021 at 2:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Clock Tower in Wasilla was given the green light to open its doors to customers at 8 a.m. Saturday morning after first responders resolved a gas leak that hospitalized seven individuals, according to Ken Barkley, director of emergency services for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The gas leak at the shopping center was determined to be “sewer gas,” Barkley said.

Barkley said professionals are working to determine what caused the leak. He went on to say part of the smell was determined to be a rubber belt in a heater that caught fire. To learn more about hydrogen sulfide, commonly known as sewer gas, click here.

Six people were originally admitted to the hospital according to Alan Craft, director of marketing and public relations at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, but on Saturday he confirmed another person was admitted later, bringing the total to seven. As of Saturday afternoon, Craft said six of the seven people had been released from the hospital; one person was admitted for observation.

On Friday, Craft had said the patients were being tested for possible cyanide poisoning, and would be kept for observation.

Barkley said the department got a report of people feeling ill at the Wasilla shopping center around 6 p.m. Friday. A borough hazmat team responded along with the Central Mat-Su Fire Department, he said.

On Friday, they were working to determine the cause of the exposure, Barkley said.

A few other employees and customers had already evacuated from the building by the time first responders got to the Clock Tower, according to Barkley.

He said the hazmat team entered the Clock Tower, and initially got two different readings when they investigated. On Friday, he said they needed to confirm those readings. A hazmat team from Anchorage was sent to assist Friday night.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with additional details.

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