Tampa skyscaper evacuated, people fled down stairwells

9:11 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Tampa skyscraper evacuated, people fled down stairwells

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TAMPA, Florida - There were scary moments today at the BB&T building in downtown Tampa after all 35 floors had to be evacuated.

"We had no idea what was going on," said one woman.

Employees from the building piled into Gaslight Park across from the Tampa Police Department.

"I just wanted to get out," another employee told 10 News.

Hundreds of employees left the building after a faulty air-conditioner caused major problems.

Fire crews arrived within minutes after the call came in just after noon. It all started when people on the 28th floor said they smelled a noxious, foul odor. Smoke billowed into the hallways and employees packed the stairwells to get out in time.

Firefighters had to go from floor to floor making sure everyone was evacuated. Six people were treated on scene, and two people were rushed to Tampa General Hospital.

Turns out, maintenance crews were replacing an old air conditioner from the 1980's when some refrigerant leaked out.

Employees thought it was just a fire drill. "We were on the 15th floor and going down the stairwell. I was wondering what would have happened if the building was on fire, if people would have been pushing each other," said Paige Roy.

Fire crews eventually cleared the building.

By the way, in addition to many businesses and law firms, the BB&T building also houses ATF offices, the Attorney General's office and the U.S. Attorney's office to name a few.

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