Six hospitalized, building evacuated, during HazMat crisis at Wildomar Kaiser Permanente

WILDOMAR — Reports of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit this afternoon, followed by first one, then multiple people falling ill led to a HazMat call out and full evacuation of  Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Wildomar.

By the end of the incident a half-dozen victims, including at least three employees, had fallen sick and been transported by ground ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment.


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Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters and other emergency personnel responded to the medical center shortly before 10:30 a.m., after maintenance workers called 911 to report that an employee had begun to feel ill while working on a malfunctioning air conditioning unit.

Fire officials discuss the unfolding crisis after responding to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Wildomar this morning. Cal Fire/RCF photo

When firefighters arrived at the scene they located three sickened employees who needed to be rushed to another hospital for treatment. Based on the circumstances, firefighters requested a HazMat Team respond to the incident and called for the immediate evacuation of the entire building.

“We were rushed out in a hurry,” Cassandra Smith-Estrela explained to RCNS from the scene of the unfolding emergency. “They said there was a carbon monoxide leak but no alarms were sounding.”

“First we were moved from one side of the building to the other,” Smith-Estrela explained, as she watched additional fire apparatus and a specialized HazMat team arriving outside the hospital. “Then were told by Cal Fire to leave now, evacuate the building right now.”

While HazMat team members were preparing to make entry into the building shortly before 11:50 a.m., two additional victims fell ill and were transported by ambulance away from the scene. A little more than an hour later a sixth victim was also transported to an area hospital.

Cal Fire spokesperson April Newman later explained all the victims were transported in “minor to moderate condition.”

Sixteen firefighters from four engine companies were assisted by a Riverside County Hazardous Materials Team as well as Riverside County Environmental Health officials and Southern California Gas Company employees during the crisis, which HazMat members mitigated around 1:30 p.m.

Firefighters allowed the building to be re-populated after all their test readings came back negative during consecutive tests and Environmental Health officials gave their approval that the hazard had been fully mitigated.

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Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department photos


Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.


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