Lincoln, NE – Officials believe an ice resurfacing machine is to blame for high levels of carbon monoxide that prompted the evacuation of John Breslow Ice Hockey Center on Thursday.
Fire crews were initially called to the ice center after an ammonia alarm was accidentally tripped there around 2:25 p.m., but found carbon monoxide levels that reached 130 parts per million, Capt. Rick Schneider said. The department’s action level for carbon monoxide is 35 ppm, and doesn’t consider the scene to be safe until it’s in the single digits.
The indoor rink near Haymarket Park was evacuated during an afternoon public skating session. A post on its Facebook page said it would remain closed for the day.
It took hours to determine what caused the high gas levels.
Lincoln Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Dave Engler said fire crews turned over the investigation to University of Nebraska-Lincoln facilities officials and Black Hills Energy workers. Engler said around 6 p.m. that he’d learned those teams had zeroed in on the Zamboni, which was a secondary unit, as the source of the gas.
The Breslow Ice Hockey Center opened in December 2015 and offers a single sheet of ice for public skating, figure skating, hockey and other activities.
On Thursday, activities were scheduled on the ice through 8:30 p.m.
Ice resurfacers are a common source of carbon monoxide inside enclosed ice arenas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and researchers have warned of potential long-term side effects for youth athletes and others who experience prolonged exposure to even moderate levels of the gas.
There were no reports of anyone in the ice center becoming ill on Thursday. Engler said the investigation will continue Friday.