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Officials probe foul odor in Southland, say not to call 911

Salton
Officials are urging residents not to clog 911 lines as investigators look into the source of a mysterious foul odor reported across Southern California on Monday.

The Air Quality Management District is investigating the source of the smell, which some speculate is emanating from the Salton Sea, where the annual die-off of fish often causes a foul smell.

Andrew Schlange, interim general manager of the Salton Sea Authority, told the San Bernardino Sun that the die-off is currently occurring and that might account for the smell.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey told The Times that his department has received hundreds of phone calls about the odor, which he said has been detected from the Palm Springs area to Simi Valley.

"We are not aware of any specific hazard associated" with the odor, he added.

The smell was most pronounced in parts of the Inland Empire, which is upwind from the Salton Sea.

The Ventura County Star reported that officials there are also investigating the source of the smell.

"It was nauseating to my daughter and myself," Simi Valley resident Suzanne Van Laar told the paper."My concern is, where is it coming from?"

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 — Andrew Blankstein

Photo: A wildlife refuge specialist steps out of an air boat onto the Salton Sea shore, which was littered with dead tilapia. Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times / Nov. 19, 2011.

 
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