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Cloud of chile powder causes N.M. hazmat situation

LAS CRUCES, N.M. A cloud of habanero chile powder sent one woman to a hospital and hazardous materials crews to an industrial park in southern New Mexico.

It happened last night at a Las Cruces company that grinds chile pods into powder, reported CBS affiliate KRQE.

At least 30 complained of irritated eyes, sore throats and bloody noses.

New Mexico State Police say hazmat crew and emergency personnel responded to the scene.

Officials determined that habanero chile particles lingered in the cold evening air after employees finished their work, then went into ventilation systems.

A company in the Santa Teresa Industrial Park grinds chile pods into powder.

Authorities say habanero chiles are hotter than most and the dust created the mass irritation.

Authorities say the woman sent to the hospital had a previous breathing ailment.

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