Strange Odor At Food Plant Sends Twelve People To The Hospital

Twelve people were rushed to the hospital after workers at a Sanger food plant complained of a strange smell. The 'Del Monte Fresh Produce Plant' was evacuated and eventually shut down Friday afternoon because of the mystery odor.

"We do have an odor of pepper in the air," says Sanger Fire Chief Greg Tarascou, "We don't know where the source of that pepper came from, but we do know that's the source of our irritant."

Firefighters say when they arrived at the 'Del Monte' plant Friday afternoon all the workers were out of the building. Twelve people said they were having a hard time breathing and were feeling dizzy.

They were taken to Valley hospitals. Another 40 people were treated but did not need to go to the hospital. All 170 workers inside the plant were evacuated. Firefighters say everyone is doing okay.

After investigating the strange odor Hazmat crews say it came from the break room, but it did not come from a spill or leak.

"We can't find any residue, any powder, spray, gas fumes, or anything of that nature," says Chief Tarascou, "The best we can do is determine the smell in the air, which is pepper."'

'Del Monte' supervisors decided to send everyone who works at the plant home because of the heat.

Workers were standing outside for around two hours and were dressed for cold temperatures inside the buildings.

There's no word on when the plant will re-open, but firefighters say they did help air the buildings out.