A Californian radio station fired 10 employees, including its three morning disc jockeys, after a woman died following an on-air water-drinking contest last week.

The hosts of KDND-FM’s Morning Rave were fired after the station said it was suspending the show and investigating the death of Jennifer Lea Strange.

Strange, 28, was one of about 18 contestants in a “Hold your Wee for a Wii” contest trying to win a Nintendo gaming console by seeing how much water they could drink without going to the toilet.

During the contest, participants were given two minutes to drink a 220-millilitre bottle of water and then given another bottle to drink after a 10-minute break.

Strange might have drunk nearly 7.6 litres, witnesses said. She appeared ill, one contestant said.

After the contest, Strange called in sick to work. She was found dead at her home in a suburb of Sacramento about five hours later.

The Sacramento County coroner said preliminary autopsy findings indicated she died of water intoxication.

Drinking large quantities of water rapidly can throw off the body’s balance of electrolytes, causing brain swelling and leading to seizures, coma or even death.

Strange had showed fellow contestants photographs of her two sons and daughter, for whom she was hoping to win the Wii. The game console sells in California for about $US250 ($320