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Food Fright! Office Fridge Causes Evacuation, Illnesses

By David Goguen on May 13, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

That Half of a Ham Sandwich from 2008 Was Tired of Being Ignored

Have you ever gripped the door handle of the office refrigerator and found yourself automatically breathing through your mouth, in Pavlovian preparation for another round of "Best If Used By"-Date Roulette? If so, be thankful that a hazmat team and dozens of emergency personnel weren't sent to rescue you, as happened at an office complex this week in San Jose, California.  

It started when an employee at an AT&T building noticed an unbearable smell coming from the office refrigerator, and decided to empty out the toxic tupperware and foil-wrapped fright, before disinfecting the fridge.

The resulting odor buffet of rotting food and noxious cleaning chemicals brought 18 emergency vehicles and 50 firefighters to the building, caused seven employees to become sick, and prompted the evacuation of more than 300 workers, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Thankfully, an AT&T spokesperson was able to elegantly crowbar a corporate message in alongside an expression of concern. In a statement that is only slightly less nauseating than the incident itself, AT&T's John Britton said "One of our top priorities, along with keeping people connected, is safety," according to the San Jose Mercury News.

And not everyone in the building was affected, namely the brave female employee who tried to tame the pungent fridge. She had recently undergone nasal surgery (not just in preparation for this task, we're assuming) and "didn't smell a thing," CNN reports.

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