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Riders evacuated from RTD bus after cell phone battery fumes were mistaken for pepper spray

Police detain phone owner, then let him go
Posted: 7:28 PM, Aug 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-19 01:28:54Z

DENVER -- A Denver woman was hospitalized briefly on Thursday afternoon, after inhaling acrid fumes on board an eastbound RTD bus.

Transit police initially thought someone sprayed pepper spray onboard bus number 6285, which had pulled over at Colfax and Hudson.

Denver Police Department spokesman Doug Schepman said a man on the bus asked a female passenger and the bus driver to smell an object he was holding.

The object appeared to be part of a broken cell phone that looked burned.

The fumes caused the female passenger to experience difficulty breathing and she was taken to a hospital. The bus driver also reported feeling lightheaded, but was not treated.

RTD spokesman Scott Reed said fellow passengers realized the man had gotten off the bus and boarded another.

Police caught up with the man near Colfax and Uinta. They detained him for a few minutes before realizing that he hadn’t used pepper spray.

“It was his cell phone battery emitting the fumes,” Reed said.

The man was then released.

Police say the incident does not appear to be criminal in nature.

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