A downtown Victoria business was evacuated twice on Tuesday after someone allegedly sprayed shoppers inside with bear spray.

Customers were streaming out of the Value Village on Store St. early Tuesday afternoon as the building's alarm system blared and fire crews arrived to ventilate the structure.

Victoria fire Capt. Cliff Kennell recovered the bear spray canister and said it's unfortunate the calls had to take two fire trucks out of service.

"This is the second time it's happened today so we're going to be contacting VicPD," he told CTV News. "The first incident was the exact same thing."

Customer Alzira Black said she was inside the store when she immediately started coughing and a staff member told her and everyone else to leave.

"I don't know if I feel OK," Black said, standing outside the store.

She was one of many shoppers lingering outside the building and coughing, blowing their noses and rubbing their eyes.

"It was unexpected but it looked like they dealt with it really well," said another customer.

Kennell said he would give the bear spray canister to Victoria police once they arrived on scene.

Victoria police have confirmed they're investigating the incident.