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LAKE DELTON, Wis. (AP) — Authorities on Sunday blamed an ice resurfacing machine for a suspected carbon monoxide leak that sent dozens of people to hospitals after a junior hockey game at a Wisconsin rink.
At least 81 people were treated for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after the leak was discovered Saturday at Poppy Waterman Ice Rink in Lake Delton.
Delton Fire Chief Darren Jorgenson told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis the carbon monoxide was coming from one of the rink's two propane-fueled resurfacing machines. Jorgenson said the machine "wasn't fully combusting the propane," and the ventilation system was unable to offset the problem.
The employee operating the machine thought it was functioning properly, Jorgenson said. Both machines, which the fire chief said passed inspections just before the hockey season began this fall, will be inspected Monday.
While the rink is not required by law to have a carbon monoxide detector in the building, Jorgenson said, "any space that people occupy where there is a fuel-burning appliance, it's great to have as many (CO detectors) as possible."
Players reported having headaches, dizziness and nausea after a game between the Dells Ducks and the Rochester, Minnesota, Ice Hawks, the Delton Fire Department said. One player fainted, the department said.
Only one person was known to still be receiving treatment Sunday. One Ducks player was getting oxygen therapy at a hyperbaric chamber in Milwaukee, the Minnesota Junior Hockey League said.
Rochester coach Nick Fatis and at least one other Ice Hawks player will receive further treatment at Mayo Clinic, the league said.
Fatis told the Star Tribune that the symptoms started showing up among his players Friday night during a game against the Ducks at the same rink. Leading up to Saturday's game, players were complaining of headaches, said Fatis, who thought it was cold or flu "but didn't really pick up on" carbon monoxide poisoning. Once Saturday's game began, players had trouble breathing and several failed to finish the game, he said.
"I feel like this was a very avoidable situation," Fatis said.
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