Hazmat crews respond to Burlington Aldi, shopping center closed

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- After hazmat crews responded to a Burlington shopping center for reports of “haze” in the buildings, crews did not detect any hazardous material.

“We really weren’t getting a whole lot of readings, which is good news, we’re only looking at five different gases here, but our oxygen level in the air can tell us if something else is present,” said Justin Hite, a member of the Regional Response Team.

The Regional Response Team, which is headquartered in Greensboro and staffed with Greensboro Fire Department’s personnel, assisted the Burlington Fire Department in responding to a call from 1801 S. Church Street.

Around 8:30 a.m., Aldi employees noticed haze in the building and said they had scratchy throats.

Other tenant spaces reportedly had haze in them as well.

The entire shopping center, which includes Harbor Freight Tools, Big Lots and Office Depot, was evacuated and closed to the public until the afternoon.

Crews remained on the scene until close to 1 p.m. It was around this time that the shopping center re-opened. Aldi’s did not open immediately.

A sign was posted at the entrance that read, “Due to a mechanical issue we are closed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

Although crews did not find any hazardous substances, the source of the haze was not immediately clear.

“The only thing that we’ve been able to determine is possibly having something to do with the humidity in the grocery store. That’s not confirmed, that’s just something that’s a possibility,” said Michael Willets, public information officer for the Burlington Fire Department.

Shopping center tenants were told that if they see the haze again to notify the fire department immediately.

However, crews are confident that all precautions were taken and there is no public danger.

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