OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A hazardous materials team evacuated the Alameda County coroner’s bureau in Oakland on Wednesday when 15 staff members reported nose and throat irritation from a decomposed body they received, an Oakland fire battalion chief said.

The fire department responded around noon to the coroner’s bureau at 480 Fourth St. in downtown Oakland, Battalion Chief Emon Usher said.

The office had received a body from a funeral home and when staff members opened up a body bag, there was an extremely foul odor that and 15 staff members were “overcome with irritation,” Usher said.

Hazardous materials crews arrived and ordered the building evacuated.

Usher said that the man had been a mechanic and worked on cars in his garage, where his partially decomposed body was found. It was sent to a funeral home and then to the coroner’s bureau for an autopsy.

Because the man’s body had already started decomposing, the funeral home had applied a powdered deodorizer to the body called “Smelleze Eco Corpse Deodorizer.” Usher ordered the deodorizer tested but it was determined to be non-toxic.

He then had the man’s body itself evaluated and the inside of the body bag, thinking that the man may have been carrying chemicals when he died, but discovered no toxic materials there either.

The hazmat crews tested the inside of the autopsy room and found no toxic substances, but as a precaution flushed the air and tested it again and determined it was safe, Usher said.

The 15 people who reported irritation were checked out outside the building and one was taken to a hospital, Usher said. The fire department left the area around 1:30 p.m.

© Copyright 2014 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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