LARGO — Elevated levels of carbon monoxide forced the evacuation of a local ice rink Wednesday night and sent four children to area hospitals.
Officials were called to the Clearwater Ice Arena, at 13940 Icot Blvd., at about 6:30 p.m., after patrons complained of breathing problems and headaches, said David Mixson, division chief of operations for Largo Fire.
When officials arrived, they detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide and evacuated the facility.
Twenty-three people were treated at the scene with oxygen. Four 9-year-olds were taken to area hospitals as a precaution, Mixson said.
It is unclear what caused the elevated levels.
Officials originally thought it was from the Zamboni, which runs off propane. The machine had been used earlier in the day. But by the end of the night, authorities were leaning toward the arena's dehumidifier, which runs on natural gas, Mixson said.
"They did the right thing by calling us," he said. "The dangerous thing about carbon monoxide is it is cumulative. The longer they were inside the worse it would have been."
Most people were fine after getting outside and being treated with oxygen, he said.
Mixson said firefighters detected carbon monoxide levels of 96 parts per million when they arrived. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, of OSHA, sets a ceiling of 200 parts per million, he said.
Officials spent hours ventilating the building. They also locked off the gas and said the building will have to be inspected before it can reopen. It was unclear Wednesday how long that would take.
In 2009 hockey players became sick after being exposed to fumes from an ice edger at an Oldsmar rink.