Hourslong Hazmat Response That Sent 2 Irvine Officers to Hospital Likely Prompted by Rock-Climbing Chalk

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Two Irvine police officers were hospitalized after being called to a home that was initially described incorrectly as a possible drug lab early Tuesday morning.

Two officers were hospitalized after responding to a home in Irvine on Dec. 6, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

Two officers were hospitalized after responding to a home in Irvine on Dec. 6, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

The officers were called to the 40 block of Gardenpath about 12:15 a.m., Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz said.

The officers were investigating a possible drug lab at the location when they needed to be transported to a local hospital with what were described as minor, non-life threatening injuries, Kurtz said.

A hazardous materials team was called to the scene, Kurtz said.

By afternoon, Kurtz said investigators had determined what the non-hazardous substances found at the home were: calcium sulfate, which is similar to what’s in “do not eat” packets in packaged goods; calcium carbonate, or chalk; and water.

The resident at the home is a high-altitude mountaineer, Kurtz said. Mountaineers and rock climbers often use chalk to keep their hands dry while ascending rock faces.

The chalk powder was found throughout the house, on tables and counters, and on the floor of the garage, Irvine Police Department Cmdr. Matt Mahoney told the Orange County Register.

The officers became dizzy likely due to the lack of oxygen inside the “sealed” home, the newspaper reported.

The call first came in to police from the resident, who suspected a burglary was occurring, the Register said. The resident was “evasive” and was taken into custody during the hourslong investigation, Mahoney told the newspaper.

The officers have been released from the hospital and are fine, the captain said.

KTLA’s Stephen Acosta and Jennifer Thang contributed to this report. 

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