ST. CHARLES – Following the indoor Kane County Food Truck Festival being shut down on Jan. 26 after St. Charles firefighters found elevated levels of carbon monoxide, attendees who became ill at the festival are raising questions about the event.
The festival was shut down after elevated levels of carbon monoxide were found in Robinson Hall at the Kane County Fairgrounds, where the trucks were assembled. Thirty-eight patients were evaluated and one patient was transported to a hospital for treatment, St. Charles Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet had said in an email.
However, other festivalgoers such as Gilberts resident Lori Hoffmann checked themselves into a hospital for treatment. Hoffman said she felt ill after being at the festival for three hours. She attended the festival with two friends.
Other attendees at the festival also admitted themselves into hospitals, according to a Facebook page for the event.
“I had a headache and I was feeling kind of funky, like I felt a little off,” Hoffman said.
She started feeling worse after driving to her sister’s house in Clarendon Hills.
“The headache was worse, the dizziness was worse, and then, when I was trying to tell my sister a story, I literally blanked out and I couldn’t remember the rest of the story,” Hoffman said. “And I sort of lost the ability to speak. It was like I was trying to talk, but I wasn’t saying anything. And I freaked out everybody.”
Her family members then took her to the emergency room at Hinsdale Hospital, where she was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning.
“They gave me oxygen and then I felt better and then they let me go home after hours of being in the emergency room,” Hoffman said. “Once I got the oxygen, I started feeling much better. The headache started going away and everything.”
Her friends also got checked out at Sherman Hospital in Elgin and were given anti-nausea medication. Schelstreet had said the department believes the elevated levels of carbon monoxide were caused by a combination of the trucks and a couple of generators that were operating. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
Hoffman said she noticed the building’s two garage doors were “occasionally” open during the festival.
“But then they closed them right away because I think it was so cold out,” she said. “When they opened them, you would get this blast of frigid air, and then they would close them fairly quickly. They didn’t keep them open.”
According to weather reports, the high temperature that day was 10 degrees. Although Hoffman said she received a refund from the event organizers, she still has lots of questions.
“How did the county approve this knowing there were going to be trucks inside?” she asked. “How could have this possibly happened?”
Kane County Fairgrounds Superintendent Jack Anderson and Oswego-based Brew Avenue Events, which organized the festival, could not be reached for comment.