Firefighters say bug fogger led to closing of Springfield Walmart; 2 hospitalized

Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 3:18 PM CDT
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Firefighters evacuated a Springfield Walmart after what they now say is a bug fogger sprayed in the store. Two customers inside the store suffered injuries and were taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Firefighters arrived to the Walmart Supercenter at Sunshine and West Bypass Road around 2 p.m. Monday.

"He told me to get out. I said okay," said shopper Ronnie Gregory.

He was one of the dozens of shoppers, forced to leave the store.

"They were hectic boy, the workers, trying to get everybody out," he said.

We asked, "Would you say there was a panic?"

"Yeah there was a panic. They were trippin' man. Something blew up and we got to get everybody out. There's a chemical," said Gregory.

Springfield and Logan-Rogersville Fire Departments activated their hazmat teams to investigate. Crews quickly found that the source.

"I didn't smell it. No eyes burning or anything. No sick feeling. I didn't get a whiff of nothing. Whatever it was it wasn't by me," said Gregory.

Crews used special equipment, similar to a carbon monoxide detector, to monitor contamination levels.

Assistant Chief Bryan Newberry with the Springfield Fire Department said, "Based upon what I saw, as far as the can is concerned, it could be just a simple irritant that would cause difficulty in breathing, something of that nature. If you have underlying issues it could complicate that."

Gregory said that he's glad that the chemical wasn't something more dangerous.

"With the COVID-19 out right now, that's a different story. That could be death," he said.

We asked, "So you're more afraid of COVID-19 than you are of bug spray?"

"Oh yeah, way more," he said.

"We're prepared for it. We train for it. This is something that we're ready to do. It's not common that we're at a Walmart for something like this.

But we're one hundred percent prepared," said Newberry.

The building was ventilated. Within two hours the staff was allowed back in.

Gregory was able to finish his shopping.

"Raid doesn't bother me. Wipe it up and go on," he said.

Investigators initially thought it was pepper spray. They are working to find out how this happened. It's unknown if charges could be filed at this time.

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