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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

‘Unknown irritant’ sickens service members at Fairchild

UPDATED: Thu., July 28, 2016

From staff reports

About a dozen people were taken by ambulance to area hospitals after reports of “an unknown irritant” at Fairchild Air Force Base on Thursday morning.

Around 8:30 a.m., 24 people “reported feeling affected by an unknown irritant” around 8:30 a.m. at the Logistics Readiness Squadron, Building 2045, according to a news release from Fairchild. Some of those patients were treated on the base and nearly a dozen were taken to area hospitals for additional evaluation.

Seven patients were taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and four were transported to Deaconess Medical Center, according to hospital representatives. All Fairchild personnel had been treated and released by late afternoon.

The building was evacuated for an investigation. The cause is suspected to be related to the building’s ventilation system but is still under investigation, the news release said. A Fairchild spokesman declined further comment.

The Airway Heights Fire Department dispatched units to the base shortly before 11 a.m. The Spokane Fire Department also responded to the scene Thursday morning, according to Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

It is the third time in a month that an “unknown irritant” has sickened people and caused evacuations in Spokane County. On July 7 and July 20 portions of the county courthouse were evacuated after letters that appeared to be contaminated were opened. Convicted felon Christopher A. Cain, who is currently in the Spokane County Jail on drive-by shooting charges, and his wife have admitted sending the letters but denied adding any contaminants.

Both of the previous incidents are under investigation by the FBI and the letters are being tested.

The FBI is not involved in the incident at Fairchild, and there’s no indication it’s related to the earlier cases.

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