US

1 Dead, 8 Sick in Hazmat Incident at San Jose Hotel

By The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, California—Authorities say one woman has died and eight people have been sickened in a hazmat incident Saturday at a Northern California hotel.

KTVU reports Saturday that guests of the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose reported smelling a chemical odor—similar to a rotten egg—and feeling faint, light-headed and short of breath.

San Jose police Officer Gina Tepoorten says authorities are investigating the death as a suicide. Tepoorten said in an email the hazmat incident is related to the woman’s suicide.

“It was originally reported as someone attempted suicide using chemicals. We cannot confirm this was a suicide,” San Jose Fire Department Captain Mitch Matlow said.

Matlow says the eight people sickened are believed to be hotel employees. Several other people had minor symptoms but “have gotten better with fresh air.”

Matlow said at a news conference more than 100 people were evacuated from the hotel. Exposure to the unknown chemical was believed to be “very brief.”

“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, 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.

“Safety is our top priority and top concern,” said Fairmont Hotel spokesperson Michelle Heston in a statement to KTVU.

The hotel’s general manager did not immediately return a request for comment.

The TV station reports the woman who died is believed to be a hotel guest. The eight other people affected were taken to hospitals but none was believed to be in life-threatening condition.

Matlow said there is no risk of an explosive hazard in the room.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.