One woman is dead and six people were taken to the hospital after a hazardous materials incident at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California, according to San Jose Fire Department Captain Mitch Matlow.
The call first came in just after 10 a.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) on Saturday.
“It was originally reported as someone attempted suicide using chemicals. We cannot confirm this was a suicide. There is one fatality,” Matlow said.
In addition to the six people taken to the hospital, a group of other people complaining of minor symptoms, including lightheadedness, feeling faint, and shortness of breath were evaluated and treated at the scene.
Hotel floors 18 through 20 of the Fairmont were evacuated, Matlow said. The female fatality was found on the 19th floor. It’s not clear how long she had been dead or had been at the hotel.
Firefighters responding to the scene brought their own bottles of air so they wouldn’t have to breathe the air in the room. The smell was compared to rotten eggs, Matlow said.
“What they smelled made them want to go to the next level of protection, which is less comfortable,” he said, explaining that the firefighters changed into suits that would not absorb the chemicals.
Crews were still working Saturday afternoon to identify the chemical involved, Matlow said. Their “objective is to identify the chemical and come up with a plan to decontaminate the room or rooms involved,” he said.
“There was liquid on the floor of the room and countertop,” Matlow said. “Whether that’s mouthwash or hazardous chemicals will be determined by chemical testing. Every single puddle in the room will have to be tested.”
Matlow said there is no risk of an explosive hazard in the room.