Refrigerant leak forces evacuation of Bakersfield Costco

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Firefighters evacuated the Costco store on Rosedale Highway on Saturday evening after getting reports of a pipe leaking a potentially hazardous chemical.

A store manager told firefighters about a hissing sound that was coming from a 2-inch pipe running along the ceiling at the rear of the store.

Firefighters evacuated everyone inside the store shortly after arriving at around 5 p.m. Afterward, they worked with store maintenance to find out what the hissing pipe was carrying.

Officials said the leak was a refrigerant directed to the frozen foods section of the store. Safety equipment in the refrigeration system automatically stopped the flow shortly after the leak was detected.

Nearly 300 of the shoppers and employees in the store could have been exposed to the refrigerant, however a triage only found one patron with a minor health complaint.

The store was closed while repairs were made to the broken pipe. Kern County Environmental Health found the store was safe to bring employees back inside the store.