by Bea Peterson
The Hoosick Falls Fire Department responded to a call at the Rite Aid on Main St. in Hoosick Falls at 1:30 on Monday afternoon. Chief Jonathan Coon said when the sump pumps failed in the basement of the store and water collected on the floor, employees noticed the water had an oily sheen on it. They then noticed an oily residue leaking in through the wall on the parking lot side of the building. The store was evacuated and firefighters wearing air packs entered the structure to take chemical readings. “The place had an ‘oily/varnish’ smell,” said the Chief. Signs were placed on the doors stating that the Rite Aid was closed until further notice.
On Tuesday only employees were in the building. In the afternoon the fumes again became so bad the Fire Department was called to ventilate the building once more. Chief Coon said two employees were overcome by the fumes and were taken to Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, treated and released. Toward evening equipment was brought in to excavate a portion of the parking lot in search of an old underground oil tank. They did not find a tank. On Wednesday equipment was brought in to work on fumigating the building.
On Tuesday evening Coon said he had no idea of the condition of merchandise inside the store or how soon before the problem would be rectified.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has been at the store every day. The source of the fumes is still under investigation.
Chief Coon said, “They must have turned away 500 people who were concerned about their prescriptions.” Most of them have since resolved the problem by picking up their medicines at Thorpe’s Pharmacy in Hoosick Falls or at the Rite Aid in Cambridge.