At 7:30 p.m., the janitorial staff at the University Mall began to smell a strong odor of ammonia. They thought it was strong enough to notify security.
The security officer, an off-duty policeman, originally thought it would be something he could take care of himself, but when he walked down the stairs to where the odor was coming from, he changed his mind.The smell was too strong to be safe.
At 8 p.m., two engines and one ambulance responded. A crowd began to gather, and passing motorists craned their necks to see what was going on. With eight men at the scene wearing bright yellow slickers and respiratory devices, it had to be something important.
Initially, officials feared that it was a spill from a nearby tire store or that someone had dumped deadly chemicals down a drain.
At 8:10 p.m. one of the firemen walked up to the top of the stairs, took off his mask and revealed the source of the odor. A gallon bottle of ammonia, 1/4 full, was sitting behind a pillar with its lid off.
"We took it serious because we had no idea what was going on," said Orem Fire Captain Dave Thomas. "Other than a cleaning agent, we didn't know what would make that much of a smell. A little bit of ammonia goes a long way."
At 8:11 p.m. the officials at the scene carefully disposed of the chemical spill by putting the lid on the bottle and returning it to the janitorial crew.