RICHMOND (CBS SF) – A refrigerator repairman suffered a serious cut to his hand after a pipe exploded and started leaking Freon gas at a Richmond grocery store Monday afternoon, the Richmond fire chief said.

Fire crews were called to the Foods Co at 1250 Macdonald Ave. around 2:15 p.m. after a minor explosion and Freon leak in a refrigeration unit at the store, fire Chief Michael Banks said.

Freon, a chlorofluorocarbon, is a compound commonly used as a refrigerant. Banks described the odor the gas emits as a musty, oily smell.

A repairman, who does not work at the grocery store, hit his hand against piping in a second-floor utility room of the store after a pipe exploded.

The explosion left his hand seriously injured and he was taken by ambulance to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Banks said.

A female employee at the store was having breathing issues after inhaling some of the gas, Banks said.

She was taken to Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center to be evaluated, Banks said.

The store was evacuated and remained closed as of 5 p.m. and is expected to be closed into the late afternoon Monday as fire crews clear out the hazardous material.

Nearby businesses had earlier been evacuated but some had reopened around 5 p.m., Banks said.

Fire crews remained at the scene around 5 p.m.

No firefighters had been injured in the explosion or leak, he said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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