This was a press release issued at 9 a.m. PT today from the Station fire near Los Angeles:
On Tuesday, September 1, 2009 a firefighter working on the Station Fire in the Aliso Canyon (30250) area of Acton was overcome by noxious fumes. The firefighter suffered respiratory arrest and was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital for further treatment and evaluation.
On Thursday afternoon, six additional firefighters were transported to Henry Mayo Hospital after being overwhelmed by unknown fumes in a different area of Aliso Canyon (30881). They were treated for their symptoms and released.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s HAZMAT unit responded to the two separate areas of Aliso Canyon to investigate the cause of the respiratory illnesses. After examining the sites, HAZMAT personnel detected trace cyanide concentrations of 48 parts per million in the (30250) Aliso Canyon area. Medical personnel at Antelope Valley Hospital have been advised of the findings.
During the investigation and rehabilitation, the sites of both inhalation injuries have been cordoned off and secured. The rehabilitation process may take several days.
In the area where the six firefighters were injured, the HAZMAT unit found smoldering spots of fire, but no contamination traces of chemicals. HAZMAT personnel also found galvanized materials, baling wire, cans and bottles. It is known these materials can offgas traces of cyanide.
Trace cyanide exposures have been known to cause respiratory difficulty, nausea, headaches and dizziness. Cyanide dissipates in the air so the surrounding areas have been identified as safe. 100-300 parts per million of Cyanide are a lethal concentration.