A 56-year-old transient Wednesday admitted pouring a chemical mixture into a drain at an Alpha Beta market in Glendale where five people were overcome by fumes and 25 others were evacuated on Tuesday, Glendale fire officials said.
Fire investigator John Orr said the homeless woman was caught Wednesday morning as she was about to pour what he described as a "homemade bug killer" into a sewer behind the market at 1122 E. Broadway. Orr said witnesses had reported seeing the woman dump a liquid into the drain the day before.
Fumes from the mixture entered the store on Tuesday through drain pipes in the floor, sickening five market employees. The store was evacuated and remained closed more than seven hours before chemicals were removed from the drain, according to a spokesman for the market chain.
The woman told investigators that she had concocted the mixture from chemicals she found in trash bins, Orr said.
The woman was not arrested and no charges are expected to be filed, Orr said. "She didn't realize what she was doing," he said.
Onions and Garlic
The mixture included two toxic chemicals, vinyl chloride and perchloroethylene, carcinogens commonly used in plastics manufacturing. It also contained onions and garlic. The toxic substance was identified on Tuesday by hazardous material teams from the county fire and health departments.
Orr said the woman admitted pouring one gallon of the mixture into the sewer on Tuesday in an effort to kill cockroaches and odors in an alley behind the store where she had been sleeping for several days. Fire officials confiscated two more gallons of the mixture Wednesday and strongly warned the woman not to dump chemicals illegally.