Punctured bear spray can evacuates Anchorage Value Village

Tegan Hanlon
Firefighters carry a fan out of Value Village after a can of bear spray was accidentally punctured midday Thursday, August 21, 2014, at the store along East Northern Lights Boulevard at Boniface Parkway. Several people were treated at the scene. Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News

When a forklift operator attempted to move a box at an Anchorage Value Village on Thursday afternoon, he ended up forcing the entire store to evacuate.

The Anchorage Fire Department said the forklift punctured both the box and a can of bear spray packed inside. As firefighters and medics arrived at the strip mall off East Northern Lights Boulevard around 11:25 a.m., people were already filing out, said Al Tamagni, fire department spokesperson.

Medics evaluated 13 people on scene, and two were taken to hospitals, he said.

The fire department set up fans inside to eradicate the bear spray mist. 

“All we can really do is ventilate,” Tamagni said. “So we brought some fans in and we just kind of blew the air outside to get the stuff out of there.”

Carl Jerue, manager at the Value Village, said the bear spray was a donation.

The thrift store chain does not accept combustible donations like aerosol cans, fuel tanks or fire extinguishers. It disposes of them through the landfill, he said. 

The National Park Service advises people exposed to bear spray to rinse any affected body areas with cold water. Any effects should subside within 45 minutes.