FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Court documents detail the horrors and dangerous nature of the illegal lab in Reedley, exposed several months ago by a city code enforcement officer. What was found inside prompted the fire chief to send a letter to city officials describing it as a “potential disaster for the city.”
Nearly a thousand overcrowded bio-engineered mice, vials of blood, and infectious diseases including malaria, E. coli, chlamydia, COVID, and others found in the warehouse in Reedley.
A City of Reedley code enforcement officer first noticed the illegal lab in December. She says a signed lease for the property shows the company moved from its Fresno location to Reedley in October 2022, just over a month before it was discovered.
For the first half of 2023, the process of cleaning the Reedley location was stuck in court. Electrical issues were highlighted, including adding outlets for running refrigerators and freezers. There were also unmarked highly flammable chemicals being stored there. Officials were worried about the risk of a possible explosion, which prompted Reedley Fire Chief Jerry Isaak to send a letter to Reedley’s city manager.
The letter outlined a planned evacuation zone in case of an incident at the warehouse. The evacuation area included the Reedley Police Department, Reedley’s city hall, the main office of Kings Canyon Unified School District, and 12 homes.
Due to a gas station next door to the warehouse, the fire chief wrote in the letter that “the concern increased of a potential disaster for our city.” The letter was instrumental in the city getting warrants to go into the property. Since then, city, county, state, and federal agencies have all been approved to go in.
In April, government officials euthanized over 700 of the mice found inside. At the beginning of July, chemicals were removed too, and the removal of chemicals and other products will continue into the coming months.
City officials want to make it clear to the public that they are not nearly in as much danger as they were in April when the letter from the fire chief was written.
In a statement, the California Department of Public Health revealed that their staff members are “working with local, state, and federal partners, as well as law enforcement authorities, to assess the situation,” adding that it is an ongoing investigation that will take time to resolve.