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Sandra Yi reporting The health department has identified the mystery powder that caused alarm at a West Valley video store Monday night.
Initial reports indicated a powder bomb of some sort had exploded inside the Blockbuster at 5641W. 3500 South. Eight people were sent to the hospital.
The health department says it wasn't a prank as it first appeared, but an accident.
Employees called police around 7:30 pm when they heard a loud pop then saw a powder cloud fill the air. The light yellow colored powder reportedly covered a ten foot square area.
A vial contains some of that powder found inside the store. Tests show it's sulphate, which is used as a fire retardant.
Health officials say it probably came from a fire extinguisher that was under the video drop off box. That may also explain the pop workers heard.
Dale Keller/Salt Lake Valley Health Department: "THIS IS NOT AN UNCOMMON THING. I'VE WORKED A COUPLE OF CASES LIKE THIS IN THE PAST. BUT THE SPECIFICS OF THIS CASE, I'D PREFER NOT TO SAY BECAUSE WEST VALLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT IS DOING AN INVESTIGATION RIGHT NOW AND SO I WOULDN'T WANT TO SAY SOMETHING THAT WOULD IMPEDE THEIR INVESTIGATION. BUT FIRE EXTINGUISHER, ALMOST ASSUREDLY, THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE."
Health officials suspected the powder was fire retardant, but wanted to be sure because they say some harmful chemicals have similar physical characteristics.
Hazmat Monday night did set up a decontamination tent, stripped down the exposed workers and cleaned them off. No one was seriously injured but some employees did complain of skin irritation, which can be caused by sulphate.
Again, the mystery powder found inside the Blockbuster Monday night was a dry fire retardant. It's relatively harmless, but officials say these days you can never be too careful.