SALEM — The Salem Fire Department evacuated the 109-room Holiday Inn at 1 Keewaydin Drive in Salem Friday afternoon after people in the building fell ill from chemical fumes.
Battalion Chief Craig Lemire said the fumes originated in the indoor pool area after maintenance workers mixed hydrochloric acid with chlorine, apparently in a mistaken attempt to prepare the pool cleaning chemicals.
Lemire said one maintenance worker became sick along with two restaurant workers in a Margaritas Mexican Restaurant located in the floor above the pool after the fumes wafted through the ventilation system.
“The main health risk would be inhalation hazards; nausea, vomiting, exactly what they had,” Lemire said.
He said about six or seven people located in the Margaritas left the building on their own and the fire department ordered the evacuation of the rest of the building, after the call came in at about 1:09 p.m.
The three patients were transported to area hospitals.
The Salem Fire Department called in the regional hazmat team, which consulted emergency crews on how to proceed. Salem firefighters made entry themselves to perform air monitoring, but found the chemical fumes had largely dissipated on their own and no safety hazards were detected.
The town health officer was also called in to consult on how to reduce health risk in the restaurant, and the restaurant discarded any open food as a precaution, Lemire said.
The scene was under control by 3:23 p.m.
Salem Fire responded with two engines, a tower ladder, a rescue vehicle and a paramedic vehicle. They had support at the scene from a Pelham ambulance and Windham and Methuen, Mass. provided station coverage.