Odd gas in Spokane
Just noting this for the record.... Around 3:30 PM today, Spokane's Northtown Mall was evacuated because of some kind of gas leak or released gas. Not natural gas; reported to smell "like pepper spray". Several people have been hospitalized, at least for checking. At this point (4:30) the authorities are clearing out a larger area around the mall, and are being "very tight-lipped."
4:50: appears to be all-clear, but still no sense of what it actually was.
5:13: not so all-clear. Some people seem to be "getting worse"; some folks went home, then started having skin irritation and respiratory symptoms, and took themselves to the hospital. May not be pepper spray; one witness claimed to be familiar with pepper spray and said it was something else, tasted "medicinal".
6:29: The chemical doesn't seem to have been anything serious, though about 20 people are still being checked. What is
serious is that Northtown was shown to have no effective evacuation procedure. There was apparently no announcement; even after firemen closed off the parking lot and started checking the air, customers and store employees were still allowed to mill around and ask each other what was happening. So if this was a test, a 'ping', the enemy has now detected a huge vulnerability.
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A media note. Spokane has three major TV stations: KREM (CBS), KXLY (ABC) and KHQ (NBC). In this event as in the last few weather emergencies, only KREM has done the job that television was meant to do! KREM starts covering an emergency as soon as it's evident, and stays on with wall-to-wall news until it's over. The other two stations basically stick to their consultant-ordered formats, ignoring the emergency and covering the officially denominated "local news" topics, namely breast cancer, breast cancer, breast cancer, breast cancer, and cute puppies.
KREM's newest reporter Othello Richards deserves a special tip o' th' hat for possessing old-fashioned reportorial guts. In this event as in the windstorms, he's been first on the spot and first with the facts.
Needless to say, KREM won't receive any awards for an outstanding job of reporting important news. Broadcasters receive awards only for serving Lenin and destroying America.