A propane-fueled ice resurfacing machine has been pinpointed as the cause of carbon monoxide that sickened dozens of players and spectators at an ice rink in the Wisconsin Dells area over the weekend.
“It wasn’t fully combusting the propane,” said Fire Chief Darren Jorgenson, according to the Star Tribune, adding that the ventilation system in the rink was not clearing out the bad air.
At least 81 people, including 21 Rochester Ice Hawks players, were treated for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after a hockey game at the Poppy Waterman Ice Rink in Lake Delton, Wisconsin.
Several players reported having headaches, dizziness and nausea after the junior league game between the Dells Ducks and the Ice Hawks, according to Madison.com. Several players vomited and one person reportedly fainted.
Paramedics were called to the scene and took players to area hospitals. The Lake Delton Fire Department responded to the arena and found high levels of carbon monoxide, reports say.
Many spectators had left the rink before the leak was discovered, so law enforcement officials and team officials contacted them, urging them to get medical treatment, the Rochester Post Bulletin says. Those with flu-like symptoms were transported to the hospital, FOX 6 reports.
According to a post in the Ice Hawks Facebook group, most of the players were discharged from the hospital by early Sunday morning and one Ducks player was airlifted to a Milwaukee-area hospital for further treatment.
The Minnesota Junior Hockey League said on its website that one Ducks player remains in the hospital. He's receiving oxygen therapy in a hyperbaric chamber.
Doctors told at least one Ice Hawks player to seek further treatment at the Mayo Clinic, the Rochester Post Bulletin says.
The rink canceled all activities for Sunday and Monday, including the Ice Hawks game that was scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.
The machine suspected to be the cause will be inspected Monday, as will the rink's other resurfacer, according to the Star Tribune. Both machines were inspected within the past few months and passed, Jorgenson said.
The rink is not required to have a carbon monoxide detector in the building, he said.
The Star Tribune says carbon monoxide emissions have been a concern at hockey rinks for years, with many blaming ice-resurfacing equipment. The newspaper notes several instances where hockey players have fallen ill due to carbon monoxide poisoning, including a few weeks ago Ottawa, which sent 16 players to the hospital.