Mysterious foul odor kept Midtown residents indoors over weekend

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some families from Cooper-Young to Midtown and even South Memphis want answers about a foul odor that kept them indoors this past weekend.

The smell got so bad they even called Congressman Steve Cohen for help.

The odor has disappeared, which is why people can now sit outside. But last Friday, they would have had to move indoors because of the bad smell.

"It smelt like burnt rubber. I thought something was stuck underneath my car," said Heather Al-Chokhachi.

The smell lingered all day.

Al-Chokhachi told FOX13 it was “uncomfortable to keep smelling it.”

One homeowner got frustrated and posted about it on Facebook – 31 people commented.

“I can smell it all the way over in East Memphis," one person commented.

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FOX13 was asked to check it out.

We emailed the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation, who said people did call to complain.

We also contacted the Shelby County Health Department and learned it sent out 11 inspectors to interview people. Inspectors also questioned heavy industries located on Presidents Island.

The refineries, fuel distribution, tar and asphalt companies all denied accidentally releasing pollutants into the air.

The health department said it doesn't know who and what caused the problem.  Since it can't identify the cause and chemicals involved, any possible health risks are also unknown.

"I just figured it was something, something weird," said Al-Chokhachi.