InTown Suites in Ross Township evacuated; several people taken to hospital due to pesticide exposure

ROSS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Only Channel 11 captured video as hotel guests were being evacuated from the InTown Suites Extended Stay along McKnight Road this morning.

Ross Township police say they got a call about several people who were feeling sick with respiratory problems.

Allegheny County HAZMAT was called to the scene. Ross West View EMS also showed up and activated their Mass Casualty Incident to make sure they had enough resources and equipment.

We learned from police that some rat bait traps were set up right outside the hotel and after those traps got wet from the rain this morning, it caused a gas, affecting people inside and outside the hotel.

Police say seven people were taken to local hospitals, all with respiratory symptoms. Later, a child was taken by private vehicle to UPMC Children’s Hospital.

“We determined that the InTown Suites had some bait traps outside in order to control (the) rat population and when that became wet this morning because of the rain, it creates a gas called phosphine and phosphine can be very dangerous for humans if enough of it is ingested,” said Brian Kohlhepp, deputy chief of police for Ross Township.

Earlier, officials told us Orkin, the pest control company, set up the traps. But, Orkin told us the traps don’t belong to them and they don’t use treatments that release phosphine.

An Orkin spokesperson provided Channel 11 with the following statement:

“We want to make it clear that the bait stations that were originally reported did not belong to Orkin, and we do not use treatments that release phosphine as a byproduct. We have been working closely with the property, and we have provided paperwork to its corporate office outlining the services rendered at the hotel to date. For customer confidentiality reasons, we will not share further details. The safety and well-being of our customers, employees and communities are a top priority for us, and we take any allegation very seriously.”

The fire department ventilated the building. The Salvation Army provided guests with food and water and Pittsburgh Regional Transit brought buses for temporary shelter.

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