Three people were taken to a hospital after firefighters found them unconscious at Smoky Mountain Opry at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Chief Tony Watson of the Pigeon Forge Fire Department.
Two were were released from the hospital, according to a spokesperson for Smoky Mountain Opry. 38-year-old Josh Ellis remains in a medically induced coma at UT Medical.
In a statement, Smoky Mountain Opry owner and CEO David Fee said a carbon dioxide gas release affected a technician in an isolated tech rooms. The CO2 is used for the shows’ smoke effects.
“In the show we use CO2 for a special effect,” said General Manager Micheal Helda. “Down in this room there is a CO2 valve and the valve is only typically left on for a very very small time. Unfortunately, for reasons that we don’t know at this time ,it was left on for an extended period of time.”
Smoky Mountain Opry Owner David Fee says the CO2 valve being left on caused the room to will with the gas.
“During this gas release one of our employees was found unconscious. Two of his fellow technicians, in a heroic effort to solve the problem quickly, went to his rescue. They were also overcome by CO2 gas,” said Fee.
Chief Watson confirms there was a high concentration of carbon dioxide in an employee-only area of the building.
The building was evacuated and there were no other injuries reported.
Sevierville Fire Department, Sevier County Emergency Management Agency, and Sevier County Ambulance all assisted with the call.
Chief Watson says the Pigeon Forge Fire Department has closed its investigation into this case.
Shows will continue at Smoky Mountain Opry. The smoke effect will not be used until it is determined how the valve was left.