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Woman, horse killed in hyperbaric chamber explosion

By Jeff Weiner, The Orlando Sentinel –

OCALA, Fla. — A 28-year-old woman and a horse are dead after a hyperbaric chamber exploded at an equine-therapy center in Florida on Friday morning, fire rescue officials said.

A spokeswoman for Marion County Fire Rescue said crews were called to KESMARC Florida in Ocala about 9:20 a.m. Friday, after a report of an explosion.

The horse, MCFR spokeswoman Jessica Greene said, was inside the chamber when it exploded. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

The woman killed was identified as Erica Marshall. A second woman, Sorcha Moneley, was taken to Shands HealthCare with traumatic injuries. She is believed to be in her 30s.

According to its website, KESMARC Florida is “a world class equine rehabilitation facility, dedicated to the recovery and conditioning of equine athletes.”

The site advertises that KESMARC offers several hi-tech treatment options for horses, including hyperbaric oxygen treatments, an underwater treadmill and laser therapy.

Greene said the explosion caused a partial collapse of the facility, including the area containing the hyperbaric chamber. Hazmat crews were also called to the scene.

A YouTube video shows a technician demonstrating a KESMARC chamber. She explains it is used to treat numerous medical conditions, as well as for “post-competition recovery.”

The KESMARC site hails hyperbaric therapy as a “revolutionary medical technology,” the type of technological development that comes “once every two or three decades.”

The website says that, 20 years ago, the breakthrough was ultrasound therapy, but “now, for equines, it is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.”

Greene said about 30 horses were at KESMARC, but only the one in the chamber was injured. Many of the animals’ owners came to the facility to pick up their horses, she said.

The structure containing the chamber was deemed unsafe for occupancy as a result of the damage. A second structure with stables also was damaged, Greene said.

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