Police in at least five cities received more than 100 calls Wednesday about a powerful, foul odor that permeated the area and came from a strawberry field where several truckloads of chicken manure had been dumped.
"We've been deluged with calls," said Lt. Larry Woessner, who also noticed the stench on the way to work.
"I thought, 'Gosh, what did I run over?' " Woessner said.
Although unpleasant, the odor was not harmful. He suggested that a low-pressure system kept the odor low to the ground and prevented it from dissipating until the afternoon.
Derek McWhinney, president of Westminster Memorial Park, which owns the 50-acre field located on Hoover Street north of Bolsa Avenue, also received several calls.
Residents asked if the smell was caused by noxious chemicals. Ironically, the chicken manure was intended to avoid use of a chemical fertilizer, McWhinney said.
Chicken manure has been spread there before, but never created such a stink. McWhinney apologized for the problem and said the smell should disappear by this morning.
The Air Quality Management District also received more than 100 complaints about the smell, but it violated no laws, spokesperson Sylvia Haskell said. Agricultural operations are exempt from public nuisance rules pertaining to odors.
The odor could be smelled several miles away--Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Fountain Valley police departments also received dozens of calls, officials said.