Concerns arise after odor at NBA game caused coughing, evacuation

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“Capital One Arena had to semi-evacuate part of Section 104 as a weird smoky thing made everyone start coughing.”

That was a report from one Twitter user who attended the game at the Capital One Arena between the Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night.

Something strange was going on in the stands around section 104 that caused many fans to leave, after they smelled a “strange, smokey odor” and felt a sensation that caused throat irritation, coughing and sneezing, according to feedback from attendees.

The “weird smokey thing” was described by another as “someone pickup what looked like a round canister wrapped in a blue cloth or t-shirt.”

Washington Post reporter Candace Buckner published a report on the incident, and shared several posts on Twitter as well Sunday evening. Buckner quoted several fans who described the strange odor that caused everyone to start coughing and having a hard time breathing.

Darryl Watkins, who watched the game from row P, said he began to notice something unusual during a stoppage of play with 3:01 remaining in the game.

“Once the T-shirt toss ended, the air just smelled different,” the Fort Washington resident said. “Something happened, and I just started to cough. I felt that I was getting sick and I didn’t think nothing of it at first but I couldn’t stop coughing and my throat started feeling odd, like real scratchy.”

Watkins, who attended the game with a season ticket holder, chose to leave with his friend after noticing others experiencing similar reactions.

“I’m coughing and I see him sneezing and I started listening to everybody else,” Watkins said. “I look around, everybody’s coughing, eyes are red, tears are dripping down their faces. … At one point it just became too much, and the best thing to do was to leave.”

Andrew Earle, in row S, seat 6, thought he smelled something on fire and felt a burning sensation in his nose.

“It was kind of hard to breathe,” Earle said.

Another reporter, Kelly Cohen, shared her experience, tweeting, “i was in 104 and it was wild. had to evacuate the whole section, couldn’t breathe and my eyes were swollen. even saw someone throw up. we saw someone pickup what looked like a round cannister wrapped in a blue cloth or t-shirt. insane, and i neeeeed answers.”

Reportedly, no one needed medical assistance, and no real answers have come forth on what caused the entire incident.

Buckner shared a statement from arena officials:

Statement from Monumental Sports & Entertainment:
“Ushers and security personnel responded immediately after an unusual odor was reported that led some patrons to leave the affected section during the fourth quarter of last night’s Wizards game. The source of the odor was not determined, no one in the area reported seeing anything to security either upon their arrival or after they had conducted their investigation and no patrons requested first aid or assistance.”

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