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DESERT: Suspected hazmat situation sickens 11 at park

22 Mar

The administrative center of Joshua Tree National Park closed Wednesday after 11 employees in the center’s mailroom were sickened in a suspected hazardous-materials situation.

The National Park Service evacuated the building after those affected displayed symptoms including skin irritation, respiratory distress, nausea and eye irritation, the Park Service said in a news release.

Joshua Tree’s administrators became suspicious of a package that had been delivered by a commercial carrier earlier in the day to the center in the 74400 block of National Park Drive in Twentynine Palms, the Park Service said.

Paramedics treated the 11 people under decontamination procedures. Park Service officials did not report that any were taken to a hospital.

The Oasis Visitors Center was closed at 4 p.m. to aid emergency workers with the decontamination and cleanup process.

Hazmat workers were trying to determine what caused the employees to become sick, the Park Service said.

The release did not include anything about what was found in the suspicious package, and it did not say if the park will reopen today.

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