Chili powder blamed for hazmat situation in Santa Teresa

SANTA TERESA, New Mexico - Dozens of people were hospitalized late Wednesday night after emergency crews say habanero chili powder wound up in the air from a nearby chili processing plant.

Hazmat calls started coming in at around 8 p.m. from several buildings near the Santa Teresa airport. New Mexico State Police tell ABC-7 that when they arrived, they found fifty workers evacuating the buildings with their eyes and throats burning.

Other emergency crews, including the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department and Las Cruces Police were also irritated by the chili powder. Emergency crews eventually determined a strange odor originating from a nearby chili processing plant, and discovered that the chili powder was getting into nearby buildings through ventilation systems.

New Mexico State Police say everyone has been treated and the area has since been cleared.

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