Cumberland Farms accidentally dumps powder on customers at pumps

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AUBURN – Snow on Friday, powder on Sunday.

Chemical powder rained down on customers and cars at Cumberland Farms Sunday afternoon when a fire-suppressant system was activated over the gas pumps.

One person was taken to a Lewiston hospital to be checked over for breathing issues after the powder caked the Center Street store lot at about 2 p.m.

A fire official said it remained unknown what caused the fire-suppression system to activate — there was no smoke or fire at the gas pumps when alarms began sounding and powder began to fall.

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Several people were parked in the area at the time, either fueling their cars or visiting the store. Powder covered the pumps, a number of nearby cars and trucks and those people unlucky enough to be outside when the flurry began.

Fire crews responded and determined that there was no fire or related issues at the gas pumps. The suppression system was shut down and an extensive cleanup began.

A fire official said some cars were covered with the powder both inside and out. He praised the staff at Cumberland Farms, who collected the names of each customer involved and made arrangements to have the affected cars and trucks cleaned and detailed.

The store also had to arrange to have the fire suppression system re-charged. It was at least the third time in recent years that the system inexplicably discharged, fire officials said.

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