Sandy grocery store evacuated after carbon monoxide detected

Jan 7, 2024, 10:20 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2024, 6:20 am

SANDY — A Smith’s grocery store was evacuated on Sunday morning after a group of firefighters were grocery shopping and were asked to look into an unusual smell.

The firemen were at the Smith’s store at 10305 S. 1300 East around 9:18 a.m. Sunday to buy groceries for their next two days on duty.

“One of the employees actually came up to us and said that they smelled a weird smell,” Capt. Joe Spicer said.

The firefighters said it smelled like some kind of exhaust.

Spicer said they brought in a four gas monitor from their truck. The device measures different gases, including carbon monoxide levels.

“Three to five is kind of what we expect to see in any given structure,” he said. “Our monitors alarm at 35 parts per million and we received notification of up to 80 parts per million.”

The crew said only their monitor beeped; no alarms were going off inside the store. They said they were confident in the monitor’s reading.

“As part of our daily check-offs, our firefighter actually had calibrated that machine this morning prior to us going to the store,” Spicer said.

The city said 30 people were evacuated out of the building and there was no complaint of illness or injury.

“Recent news stories of carbon monoxide triggered a few things in my head once we received a notification that there was high CO and we acted appropriately and got the people out safely,” Spicer said.

Dominion Energy arrived shortly thereafter at the store to shut down furnaces and clear exhaust vents.

A representative from Kroger, parent company of Smith’s, said in a statement to KSL TV that the smell was coming from the store’s heating system.

“The Smith’s Maintenance team identified the source was a cracked heat exchanger emitting carbon monoxide. The heating system was turned off and the store was evacuated for approximately an hour. 

In that time, the store was well ventilated to allow for air circulation. Dominion Energy performed multiple tests to ensure it was safe for customers and associates to return and the store reopened at about 11 a.m. The store is taking immediate action to replace the damaged part and reassures customers they can shop in a safe, and warm, environment.

We appreciate the fire department and Dominion Energy for their professionalism, attentiveness and support in ensuring our customers and associates safety, and are grateful no one experienced any adverse symptoms.”

A Smith’s grocery store was evacuated on Sunday morning after a group of firefighters were grocery shopping and were asked to look into an unusual smell. (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

A scary situation

“It’s very scary, it could’ve been really bad had somebody not spoken up, said, ‘Hey, there’s just this weird off smell, could you do an investigation for us,?'” Spicer said.

Sandy city officials issued a statement reminding Utahns of the importance of routinely checking for possible leaks during the cold season. A recent trend in carbon monoxide leaks in Utah includes incidents at a church in Monroe and a preschool in Draper.

“This serves as a reminder of how important it is to keep vents clear and furnaces in healthy working condition this time of year,” the statement read. “CO is odorless and can be extremely dangerous when exposure levels are high and lengthy.”

Both the Sandy Fire Department and Dominion Energy said they would inspect homes if someone made the request or if they suspect they have carbon monoxide in their home. Dominion Energy said it’s also important for people to have their furnaces inspected annually, as they are often working overtime during colder months.

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Sandy grocery store evacuated after carbon monoxide detected