Update: Martin County Sheriff's Office closed 2nd day due to 'strong chemical odor'
The Martin County sheriff said he closed the office for a second day after a strong chemical odor continued to make employees sick on Tuesday.
The Martin County Government Center building initially shut down on Monday after employees noticed the odor, which seemed to come from the vents. One woman's nose began bleeding, and she later passed out on her way to the hospital. Others mentioned burning sensations in their lungs and breathing issues.
A HazMat team from Pikeville was called out on Monday but the cause of the smell was not determined.
The sheriff tells WYMT that when his staff went back to work on Tuesday, about five people began feeling sick again. At noon, both the sheriff's office and the clerk's office closed.
"We need to find out what it is. You can't expect my employees to be exposed to this," the sheriff said.
The sheriff said the 911 coordinator is working on contacting the appropriate officials to handle the situation. We are told the woman who went to the hospital on Monday is feeling worse today.
A HazMat team from Pikeville was called to the Martin County Sheriff's Office Monday afternoon.
The sheriff told WYMT that a chemical odor in the building was so strong people "can't stand to be in there without feeling nauseous."
A few employees said it was burning their sinuses and making them lightheaded. The smell was so strong, it even caused one woman's nose to bleed. The woman apparently passed out at least once as she was taken to the hospital where she was admitted.
The office was closed and everyone was vacated from the building for safety reasons. Employees in the courthouse said they noticed a smell as well, so the Martin County Government Center building also shut down.
The smell seems to be coming from the vents. The sheriff told us that people started noticing the smell on Friday but it was faint and would come and go. Officials say similar incidents have happened a few times in the past due to air conditioning issues.
Pike County Emergency Management helped the department search for the origin of the odor, but the group was unable to verify any obvious issues. The building was cleared and is expected to re-open Tuesday.