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1 dead, 8 sent to hospital from HazMat situation in Idaho town

DIETRICH — Eight people were sent to the hospital for possible exposure to hazardous materials in Dietrich Thursday.

Police responded to a report of an unresponsive man in a Dietrich home shortly after 10 a.m., the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Thursday evening. Officers found the man, who was dead, along with a canister of unidentified gas.

Eight people, including first responders, had been sent to local hospitals as of early Thursday evening. Five were taken to St. Luke's Magic Valley for decontamination and treatment; four were still there at 6:30 p.m., the sheriff's office said.

Three people were taken to North Canyon Medical Center, which was on lock down and not accepting new patients as of 6:30 p.m.

All eight have been released from the hospital, Lincoln County Sheriff Rene Rodriguez said in a Facebook post. The unidentified gas was identified as nitrogen. Water testing was done on the city water system because Mayor Don Heiken had concerns that a fired employee had poisoned the system.

Boise Fire Special Operations Hazmat Team arrived on the scene early Thursday evening to assist Lincoln County deputies, Shoshone Police, Shoshone Fire, and the Lincoln County Disaster Service Manager.

The Department of Environmental Quality is evaluating any danger or exposure to the local water source, the Twin Falls Sheriff's Office said.

In the meantime, the city of Dietrich is asking residents not to drink city water until further notice, Heiken said.

Heiken did not know what the contaminant might be or how the water could have become contaminated. He said three Lincoln County deputies were sent to the hospital.

"We don’t know anything at this point," Heiken said. "We’re still waiting to find out what happened."

The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return a request for more information.

Return to Magicvalley.com for more on this story.

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