Several guests became ill on Friday morning after a strong odour consumed a hotel, causing a Hazmat situation and prompting an evacuation. The perfume-like odour was first noticed at around 6:45am at the La Casa del Camino hotel, in Laguna Beach, California, by hotel staffers who called Laguna Beach Fire Department.
It was unknown what caused the odour, but Orange County Fire Authority Hazmat officials suspect cologne from a bottle left on a heater caused an irritant to become airborne, OCFA Capt. Shane Sherwood said.
Guests complained of sore throats, itchy eyes and coughing, but none were taken to a hospital, Laguna Beach police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad robot entered the hotel at around 12:30pm to assist.
SWAT officials began going room-to-room around at 1:45pm. The man inside the room on the third floor, which smelled strongly of the odour, appeared to be sick and shut the door on officials.
Orange County Sheriff’s SWAT officials went inside at around 2:30pm, but he was not found.
“We don’t know at what point he got out,” Kleiser said. “We think it may be when fire (OCFA) called us.”
Police suspect he checked into the hotel on Thursday night and has a DUI arrest warrant.
“If it is the same male we noticed, there was DUI arrest warrant out of Northern California, Kleiser said.
Jennifer Bradshaw, who lives a street away from the hotel, said she also felt ill on Friday morning.
"All morning I've had a sore throat for no apparent reason," she said. "A helicopter (was) hovering over my house all morning."
Authorities began letting guests back into their rooms at around 4pm after Hazmat crews tested the air, Kleiser said.
“The reading they were getting was zero,” Kleiser said.