RINDGE — Rindge’s fire chief says a leaky 30-pound refrigerant cylinder is likely to blame for the air quality issue at the Rindge Market Basket Sunday night.

The cylinder, which is filled with gas, is used to keep freezers and other storage cool in the grocery store, said Rindge Fire Chief Rick Donovan.

Donovan said nine employees were taken to the hospital with respiratory problems. All are in stable condition, he said. He was not sure whether the store would be open Monday.

A previous report follows:

An employee told The Sentinel she and her fellow employees were in a back room preparing to do inventory when people started dropping to the floor. She said she did not smell anything at that time.

Employees were taken to Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, Heywood Hospital in Gardner, Mass., and Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.

Their conditions were not available.

An earlier update follows:

The Market Basket grocery store on Route 202 has been evacuated as fire officials investigate an air quality issue.

Several ambulances have responded to the store to check customers who were having difficulty breathing, according to emergency dispatchers with Southwestern N.H. Fire Mutual Aid. 

The Keene Fire Department's hazardous materials team has been allowed inside the store to investigate.

The call was reported at 6:15 p.m.

No further information was available.