Sweat lodge where two people died lacked building permits

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

SEDONA - There are way more questions than answers as we await autopsy results on the two people killed in a sweat lodge in Sedona last week.

On Monday the Verde Valley Fire Department talked about the chaos they encountered when they were called to the retreat.

3TV just learned that the sweat lodge in question lacked the necessary building permits.

It is still not clear what happened that caused so many to get sick and two people to die.

It is what first responders and grieving families would like to figure out.

Chief Jerry Doerksen says, "We knew everybody who was inside the sweat lodge was sick but what caused them to get sick?"

First responders are unsure of what the problem was but understood the situation was critical. They were faced with some 40 people needing treatment. They had to act quick but faced many challenges, especially with those unresponsive patients.

Chief Doerksen explains, "None of them had cell phones, none had personal information on them and none of them knew each other."

It was impossible to know people's medical histories. First responders transported more than a dozen people to local hospitals and treated dozens of others at the scene.

Three of the individuals remain hospitalized. One person is in critical condition, one is listed in fair condition and one patient is in good condition. Two people, 38-year-old Kirby Brown and 40-year old James Shore, died.

Chief Doerksen tells 3TV, "When I see a sweat lodge I think ‘Do they have enough air, was it too hot, were any chemicals or drugs involved?"

In this case, it is too soon to say but law enforcement is investigating and the families of Kirby Brown and James Shore are anxious to learn of their findings.

James Arthur Ray, the self-help expert from California who led this retreat at Angel Valley posted a note on his website saying he is shocked and saddened by what happened but because there are so many more questions than answers at this time, believes it inappropriate to comment.

To figure that out, law enforcement first has to figure out what happened, what caused everyone to get sick. Their symptoms were nausea, headaches and dizziness.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Department is investigating this case and it is unclear whether or not any charges will be filed but it is safe to say sweat lodges will be more closely scrutinized so as to keep this from happening again.