Spring cleaning ends with Hazmat spill at Winterville home

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Spring cleaning gone wrong, that’s what happened when a Pitt County family decided to clear out their parent’s attic. The Dunn’s found some old bottles that sent everyone into a panic.

“We decided to clean out the attic a little bit…just to see what was in there,” Carl Dunn said.

The family found unmarked old school medicine containers.

Dunn said, “Next thing you know you’re coughing and wheezing and everybody said let’s get out of here.”


Firefighters, donning PPE and SCBA’s went into the attic to remove the contaminated flooring that the bottles were both on (they were already outside when responders arrived). Without any markings or labels on the bottles, determining the contents was extremely difficult, fire officials said. It also made treating the patients that inhaled the substance difficult. In tandem with the County Emergency Management, North Carolina RRT-1 (regional state hazmat team), members of Winterville Fire-Rescue-EMS, and Pitt County Public Health officials, fire and EMS crews worked to properly treat the patients and determine a course of action for each bottle. It’s believed that both of the bottles date back to the 1920’s or 1930’s.

Family members say they have an idea of where the bottles came from.

“It came from a drug store so it was possibly something that somebody drunk years ago, but whatever it was, it was an awful chemical smell that you could not really stand to be around,” Dunn said.

While this story has a happy ending with an interesting story to tell, the Dunn’s know there could have been a different outcome.

The bottles now sit in a shed behind the Dunn household in Winterville. The family plans to properly dispose of them in the next few days.

If you are planning to clean out an old space anytime soon, make sure to look at all the labels before you touch anything. If something looks suspicious, call the Health Department.


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