SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - All but one of the eight victims from a hazmat incident inside a downtown San Jose hotel were released from the hospital on Monday, as operations resumed to normal at the San Jose Fairmont.
Fire department investigators say the Saturday incident started with the use of chemicals in an apparent suicide inside a room on the 19th floor of the 20-story building. A staffer opened the room door, which led to exposure and evacuations..
"I was in the hotel room on floor 19 and we heard a bunch of sirens go off," said hotel guest Sarah Fuentes. "They were saying, 'Please evacuate if you are in level 18, 19, 20.' We didn't know what was going on. They said it's not a fire but please evacuate come to the lobby."
Eight staffers were rushed to area hospitals, after being sickened by a chemical smell emanating from the room.
"It's going to come in and go through your nose and through your windpipe, into your lungs. And you can get what we call a chemical pneumonitis.. Where literally the layer of the lung that interfaces with the blood is damaged," said KTVU medical contributor, Dr. Larry Burchett.
Four floors were evacuated as first responders checked liquids that were found at the scene, and also confirmed no other guests or staff were in close proximity.
On Monday, hotel management issued a statement which read in part, "We are deeply saddened by this incident…Exposure to the unknown chemical was believed to be very brief…We remain steadfast in securing the safety of our guests and employees."
San Jose police are investigating the chemical used in the suicide, and the reasons why that victim chose to end her own life. The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office has not identified the suicide victim.