2 die while working inside a Scottsdale sewer

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Two workers apparently died after getting overcome by toxic fumes in a sewer outside a Scottsdale shopping mall Monday, authorities said.

Scottsdale Fire Department officials say three workers were doing some maintenance or repair work in the sewer near The Promenade around 4 p.m. but weren't wearing full protective gear for an unknown reason.

A bystander heard screams coming from the sewer and called authorities, Scottsdale Fire Division Chief Jay Ducote said.

One of the workers, an 18-year-old male, was able to climb out of the 15-foot sewer despite feeling lethargic, but the other two workers, ages 36 and 41, were apparently rendered unconscious by fumes inside, according to authorities.

Ducote said arriving crews recorded high levels of hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulfide coming out of the sewer.

"Hydrogen sulfide is a really bad chemical that is lethal at 250 parts per million and it was about 200 parts per million with the hazmat teams got out there," Ducote said.

The workers were employed by a private company, authorities said, and their names weren't immediately released.

The lone survivor was taken to a Scottsdale hospital for evaluation. Officials say he is expected to make a full recovery.

Firefighters in full hazmat suits ventilated the 3 1/2-foot manhole cover for hours before crews started to go down into the sewer, using a tripod with harnesses to recover the bodies.

Crews also set up a decontamination tent for firefighters after the job was completed.

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