Trapped car exhaust sickens six at apartment complex

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Staff report

Six people were hospitalized after carbon monoxide filled an apartment complex on the northeast side of Carmel.

Carmel firefighters were called Nov. 20 to the Legacy Towns & Flats off River Road and 146th Street on the report of a sick person, said fire department spokesperson Bruce Knott in a statement.

When emergency crews arrived, the carbon monoxide detectors the crew carries as part of their gear were activated, and firefighters immediately evacuated the building – 13 people total – from the seven units in the building, Knott said.

Firefighters found an SUV in a closed garage in the first floor of the building with the ignition on and the gas tank empty, the statement said.

Carbon monoxide was seeping into the building, and every apartment unit had elevated levels of the dangerous gas, Knott said.

“(Carbon monoxide) mixes with air and is pulled throughout building through cracks and vents and the natural ventilation system,” he said. “We encountered levels from 200 to almost a 1,000 parts-per-million.”

Fire officials said ten minutes of exposure to 1,000 parts-per-million of carbon monoxide could be fatal.

Seven other residents who were not taken away by ambulance were evacuated to the Legacy clubhouse, checked for carbon monoxide poisoning and declined further medical attention. They have since returned to their apartments.

The apartment building is all-electric, so carbon monoxide detectors aren’t something many here would have thought about, the statement said.

The fire department is waiting for the SUV’s owner to be released from the hospital to determine why it was left running, Knott said.


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