Employees of Oskar Blues Liquids and Solids in Longmont were forced to evacuate the restaurant just after noon yesterday after experiencing respiratory problems and nausea. According to Longmont Police Department spokesman Jeff Satur, seventeen employees were taken to area hospitals -- eight to Longmont United Hospital and nine with less serious symptoms to the Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette -- for exposure to what was at first thought to be a refrigerant leak.
After further investigation, Satur says, officials determined the problem might have been caused by an overworked water heater, incomplete gas combustion and a resulting buildup of fumes that are normally vented away from the building.
The workers who were hospitalized were released the same day after their symptoms diminished. Another seven employees who were exposed recovered quickly after exiting the building and being treated by responders from the Longmont Fire Department and Longmont HAZMAT team. No customers were affected.
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Oskar Blues remains closed today, but will reopen once the issue is corrected, an employee says. An exact date is not yet available.