5 DeKalb County jail employees taken to hospital

February 27, 2019

SYCAMORE – Five people were taken to Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital on Tuesday after they were sickened by exhaust fumes from a diesel generator at the DeKalb County jail, fire officials said.

Sycamore firefighters responded at 4:37 p.m. to a call that people working in the Sheriff’s communications department on the building’s first floor smelled something in the air, Sycamore Assistant Fire Chief Art Zern said.

“There was an odor in the building,” Zern said. “We have an emergency generator that was running, and somehow the exhaust fumes got into the building.”

Firefighter/paramedics from the Sycamore and Cortland fire departments transported five employees to the hospital. No jail inmates or people on other floors were affected, Zern said.

“We ventilated the building,” Zern said. “We brought fans in. This happened about six months ago, and they made a bunch of changes to the ventilation system to not repeat the problem.”

Zern said the wind was blowing from the east on Tuesday afternoon, which might have caused the problem.

“We’re not sure if one of the garage doors was left open or something different happened today,” Zern said. “The county maintenance people are in there right now trying to figure out what happened.”

Zern said he did not expect anyone else to report symptoms.

“The generator was shut out before we got here,” Zern said. “We asked them to do that.”

The scene was cleared by 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.