DENVER (Reuters) - Authorities on Monday were investigating the cause of a carbon monoxide leak at an ice arena that sickened 61 people at a girls’ youth hockey tournament in south-central Colorado.
Players, spectators and officials were overcome with carbon monoxide fumes on Sunday at the Jorgensen Event Center, a three-year-old ice arena about 180 miles southwest of Denver, said Dennis Spritzer, fire marshal in Gunnison, Colorado.
One person was hospitalized overnight at a Gunnison hospital, and two people with severe symptoms were airlifted to Denver to be treated at a hyperbaric chamber not available at the local hospital, he said.
Paramedics were summoned to the arena after 911 calls reported dozens of people were experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, including headaches, lethargy and nausea, Spritzer said.
By the time ambulances arrived, the building was evacuated and most were treated with oxygen and released, he said.
A similar incident occurred at a separate indoor ice rink in Colorado in 2009, and in the last several years, ice arenas in Minnesota, Washington, Illinois and Florida and other states reported carbon monoxide sickness scares.
Usually build-up of the odorless gas from ice resurfacing vehicles was to blame.
Spritzer said health inspectors and investigators were on scene Monday to determine the cause of the leak, but that mechanical problems in the arena’s ventilation system appear to be the culprit.
“It (the ventilation system) likely was not pulling in fresh air and venting exhaust from the ice-scraping machine,” Spritzer told Reuters.
None of those sickened were in a life-threatening situation, Spritzer said.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune