Several sent to hospital after hazardous materials incident at Skowhegan New Balance facility

Authorities said five people were taken to a hospital after a hazardous materials incident at the New Balance factory on Walnut Street in Skowhegan.The incident was reported Thursday afternoon.Officials said another 25 to 35 people were being medically evaluated at the scene.Crews said they did not know what chemical or chemicals were responsible for the incident. As soon as officials arrived they say more and more people were presenting with symptoms.They evacuated the building and declared the scene a hazmat situation. Six people were transported to Redington Fairview Hospital. Officials say all of them are doing well and have been released.Roughly 70 people were decontaminated on scene meaning they had to take off their clothes and take a shower in a hazmat tent.Those experiencing symptoms all seemed to be isolated to the fourth floor. Officials say that’s where they did an initial air quality test that came back normal.Hazmat teams did a long and thorough process of examining the building and all of the solvents used in the factory. But they still don’t know what caused the illness. Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard says, “Something happened. There’s nothing new. Nothing was introduced that’s out of the ordinary. This is solvents that these workers, that they work with and New Balance does a very good job and has great quality control with everything they use. So, what happened? We’re not sure at this point. That investigation continues.” Officials say there’s a chance they may never know what caused the employees to become ill but they’ll continue to try and find out.New Balance did release a statement early on in the afternoon saying, “We are cooperating with local emergency services to investigate a situation at our Skowhegan factory after several associates reported unusual symptoms. All necessary precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of our associates.”Officials did declare the factory safe for employees to go back to. New Balance has not said whether workers will return Friday.

Authorities said five people were taken to a hospital after a hazardous materials incident at the New Balance factory on Walnut Street in Skowhegan.

The incident was reported Thursday afternoon.

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Officials said another 25 to 35 people were being medically evaluated at the scene.

Crews said they did not know what chemical or chemicals were responsible for the incident.

As soon as officials arrived they say more and more people were presenting with symptoms.

They evacuated the building and declared the scene a hazmat situation.

Six people were transported to Redington Fairview Hospital. Officials say all of them are doing well and have been released.

Roughly 70 people were decontaminated on scene meaning they had to take off their clothes and take a shower in a hazmat tent.

Those experiencing symptoms all seemed to be isolated to the fourth floor. Officials say that’s where they did an initial air quality test that came back normal.

Hazmat teams did a long and thorough process of examining the building and all of the solvents used in the factory. But they still don’t know what caused the illness. Skowhegan Fire Chief Shawn Howard says, “Something happened. There’s nothing new. Nothing was introduced that’s out of the ordinary. This is solvents that these workers, that they work with and New Balance does a very good job and has great quality control with everything they use. So, what happened? We’re not sure at this point. That investigation continues.”

Officials say there’s a chance they may never know what caused the employees to become ill but they’ll continue to try and find out.

New Balance did release a statement early on in the afternoon saying, “We are cooperating with local emergency services to investigate a situation at our Skowhegan factory after several associates reported unusual symptoms. All necessary precautionary measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of our associates.”

Officials did declare the factory safe for employees to go back to. New Balance has not said whether workers will return Friday.