Fumes drive couple from their home

October 27, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Benzene fumes that leaked into the basement of a home in Manchester yesterday forced the owners of the home to spend the night elsewhere.

The county Health Department recommended that Charles J. Ehrenfeld Jr. and his wife not stay in the house, in the 3400 block of View Ridge Circle, said Lineboro Fire Chief John L. Krebs.

High levels of benzene fumes were discovered leaking from a crack between the foundation and the floor of the 14-year-old, split-foyer house, he said.

The toxic fumes are dangerous if a person breathes too much of it, Mr. Krebs said.

Firefighters arrived shortly after 3:30 p.m. They drilled a hole in the basement floor, and officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Baltimore County Hazmat (Hazardous Materials) team identified the fumes as benzene, Mr. Krebs said.

Mr. Ehrenfeld told firefighters that he and his wife had smelled a gasoline-like odor in the house for several weeks and that the smell had been getting worse, Mr. Krebs said.

The odor was overpowering at times yesterday and smelled like a petroleum-based product, he said.

Officials tested for leaks at nearby homes in the neighborhood and found nothing, Mr. Krebs said.

State environmental officials were to drill test holes around the home today to try to determine the source of the fumes.

In addition to the Lineboro company, emergency units from Manchester and Hampstead responded to the call.

They were on the scene until about 7:20 p.m.

The Ehrenfelds could not be reached for comment last night.

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