Health officials investigates illness at fire camp

RENO - Washoe County Health Department officials were awaiting test results to try to pinpoint an illness that sickened firefighters and others who had been cleaning up the Arrowcreek blaze in the hills southwest of Reno.

Fire spokeswoman Stephanie Johnson said between 50 and 60 firefighters and support personnel working out of the command post at Hunsburger Elementary School began feeling nauseous late Friday and into Saturday morning.

Forest service medics and emergency medical teams treated the fire crews Saturday morning, and most were feeling better that afternoon, Johnson said.

''We had several go down at about 5 p.m. Friday and we thought it was dehydration at first,'' Johnson said. ''Then we started to lose people who hadn't been out on the fire lines.''

Health department officials visited the camp Saturday. They collected food, water and stool samples and interviewed victims in an effort to determine the cause.

Cass Luke of the Washoe District Health Department said the samples were sent to the state lab for testing. Results were pending.

''We're not calling it a food borne illness at this point because we just don't know,'' Luke said.


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