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Thursday, July 1, 2010

CO Exposure Sends 4 to Hospital

At about 3:30 pm, Thursday, July 1, 2010, a carbon monoxide (CO)detector sounded a warning. That audible signal indicated that CO levels in the Emperian Village Apartment Complex building were unhealthy. A 911 call prompted the response of firefighters from Berwyn Heights Fire/EMS Station.

Upon their arrival firefighters found CO levels had reached 1000 parts per million (PPM). Any reading over 35 PPM is considered unhealthy. Additional resources were called to the scene and 11 occupants were evacuated from the 3-story garden style apartment building at 6101 Breezewood CT in Greenbelt. Paramedics treated and evaluated all those evacuated, including 5 children ranging in age from 3 months to 11 years old.

A basement level water heater exhaust pipe was found detached allowing the CO to escape into the building.

Paramedics transported 4 patients to a hospital for hyperbaric treatment. The 3 adults and 1 child are in good condition, however, their CO levels in their blood dictate treatment. Firefighters ventilated the building and the building was re occupied at about 5:45 pm.

Officials from the Office of the Fire Marshal are inspecting as many as 200 of these style water heaters throughout the complex tonight. It is possible that vandalism to the exhaust pipe may have caused it to separate from the water heater allowing the CO to vent into the building and causing the CO exposure. Fire/EMS Department officials want to ensure that other water heaters are safe and working properly.
Mark E. Brady

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