A pair of young men walked into a Columbia dentist's office last night and threw a container of caustic acid in a receptionist's face, authorities said.
The receptionist, identified by the dentist as Phyllis Fountain, was taken to Howard County General Hospital for treatment. Authorities said the woman did not appear to be seriously injured. A hospital spokeswoman said last night the woman's condition was being evaluated.
"She came screaming back that she had something in her face and eyes, and there were fumes coming off her," said the dentist, Joel L. Parran of Columbia, who was in a treatment room with a patient during the incident. "The fumes were all over the place. It almost looked like she was on fire."
Parran and a dental assistant said Fountain told them that two men, probably in their early 20s, walked into the office in the Clark Building at Sterrett Place just after 6: 30 p.m. One of the men told Fountain he needed a tooth fixed and when she turned to help, he threw the acid in her face and the men ran out the door, they said.
Parran and his employees washed Fountain with water for about 15 minutes before police and fire officials arrived and evacuated the building.
The acid burned holes in the office's peach-colored carpet and turned part of it purple, Parran said. Firefighters donned protective suits with air tanks and rubber boots before entering the office to analyze the liquid and cut out pieces of carpet for lab tests. Firefighters described the liquid as a very strong acid.
Authorities and witnesses said they were unaware of any motive for the attack.
Pub Date: 4/23/98