Crews respond to a hazmat incident at a Market Basket in Rowley. (Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio)
ROWLEY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A hazmat incident at a Market Basket store in Rowley left eight people hospitalized Thursday afternoon.
Multiple agencies responded to the store around 3 p.m. for a report of an odor of gas, and the surrounding strip mall was evacuated.
Rowley Fire Chief James Broderick said a total of eight people were taken to area hospitals—four to Beverly Hospital and four to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport.
Chief Broderick said a state hazmat team investigating the incident believes the cause was a refrigerant leak in the freezer.
Ashley Rossiter of Ipswich was inside the store at the time, and told WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal she quickly figured out something was wrong when everyone in line, including the grocery cashier, started coughing.
"Within about 10-15 seconds, everybody that I could see in the store started coughing," she said. "People started to yell 'get out of the store,' and then, as some of the elderly people started to actually collapse, people were grabbing their chests, they couldn't breathe."
She said multiple people started to call 911 as she left the store, and described the experience as "scary."
"My eyes were burning, they were watering, my chest hurt," she said. "You could feel something on your lips, your lips started to tingle."
She said an ambulance arrived, and first responders rinsed out her eyes and mouth, after which she said she was fine.