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Avalon theater special effects malfunction sends six to hospital

July 21, 2012 | 10:58 pm

The audience at a performance at Hollywood’s historic Avalon theater got more than a show Saturday when a special effects fogging machine malfunctioned, causing respiratory problems that sent six people to a hospital, where they are in good or fair condition. Twenty-two people, ranging in age from 8 to 20, were treated at the scene, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Many felt better after getting fresh air outside the theater and did not need further treatment. Of the six sent on to a hospital, four had topical burns, while others complained of headaches, coughing and shortness of breath, among other symptoms, he said. Humphrey said that two 400-gallon containers holding carbon dioxide were used to disseminate the fog, but shortly after 6 p.m., “massive amounts that came out were not able to vaporize effectively and maintained their liquid status.”

 Humphrey said the audience could not see their hands in front of their faces because of the intense fog and that a few received blisters where the liquid dropped onto their skin. “In essence, what it was, was frostbite,” Humphrey said.

Midnight Red, a band playing at the venue, sent Twitter messages telling fans that there had been a riot, which was not true, Humphrey said. Although that concert was cancelled, authorities said the Avalon has since been cleared by the health department and will remain open Saturday night. 

--Ari Bloomekatz