Bear spray in ventilation system forces evacuation at Williston hotel

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 12:17 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 3:25 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Hotel guests had to be evacuated from the Fairfield Inn in Williston Friday after bear spray got into the ventilation system.

More than 30 people had to be evacuated. Three were sent to the hospital to get checked out.

Fire officials say the bear spray was accidentally discharged in one of the rooms by a member of the hotel’s housekeeping staff.

Williston Fire Chief Aaron Collette says the spray is similar to pepper spray and causes difficulty breathing and irritation to the respiratory tract.

He said says high-powered fans were used to mitigate the hazard.

“We pulled the local fire alarm to try to confirm that evacuation, then we went door to door on all three floors. The next step was to try to mitigate the hazard. We increased the ventilation by placing five powerful fans inside of the building. Those fans have been operating for excess of an hour to try to get some of that mace out of the building,” Collette said.

Crews from Williston EMS also set up a triage outside the hotel to assist those in need of medical care. Those taken to the hospital are expected to be OK.

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