Residents in Ocean Beach and Loma Portal woke up this morning (December 22) to a mysterious odor hanging in the damp air.
Over the course of an hour, dozens of people reported the smell via the O.B. Facebook page.
“Yes, burnt plastic or electrical smell,” commented Stacey.
Nancy: “Yes I smelled something when I walked outside this morning. It smelled like an electrical fire. Went back inside to see if it was in my house. Glad it wasn't!”
Jacqueline: “Yes! I walked around my entire perimeter of my house. I thought it was an electrical fire!”
Katie: “Yes, burnt plastic.”
Larry: “Burning plastic or burning electrical wires.”
Jim: “Kinda thought it smelled like burnt plastic or something first thing when I woke up today.”
Heather: “Yes chemically smell, almost burns my nose.”
Jennifer: “Had to close my doors and windows…thought my neighbor was working on a project, smells like a very high VOC smell, like the XXXL chisel sharpies. I can feel it in my throat...what is it?”
Liz: “The same smell is downtown where I work around 16th & Imperial. I live in O.B. and was wondering what the smell was but when I got downtown I smell the same thing. It's a cross between a wet telephone pole and electrical fire smell. Strange that it would be the same in both places but the smell was identical to the one I smelled this morning at 5:30 a.m. when I left for work.”
In fact, the smell may have started on Wednesday as another resident commented: “I smelled it yesterday afternoon in Linda Vista when I drove up my driveway. I ran in the house because it smelled like an electrical fire. The smell was only outside. Made me cough, it was so strong.”
A representative from SDG&E said they don’t respond to smells other than gas and did not know if they received any calls regarding the issue.
I spoke to a representative from the San Diego Fire Department who confirmed that they have been responding to numerous calls — from Chula Vista up along the coast and can find nothing. “It’s probably that naturally occurring methane ocean-burp we get once in a while, “ he told me.
Um…no. Longtime residents are very familiar with the distinct sulfurous smell that is common along the coast, but this new smell doesn’t seem organic in nature.
According to an article in the Orange County Register this week, the problem was also reported in Huntington and Seal Beach with dozens becoming ill.
Before noon, Cameron from the County of San Diego’s Air Pollution Control office said, “Yeah, we’ve had several complaints about this. Our investigator is going out to investigate to try to determine the source…. Sometimes this entails taking air quality samples, but I’m not sure what he will do in this situation.”
Though the source of the strange odor hadn't been determined by 1:30 p.m., the investigator said another complaint had been filed and he is currently out chasing the smell, which was also reported in Mira Mesa.