Two floors of an Ocean City hotel were evacuated early yesterday and up to two dozen guests were treated for minor cases of carbon monoxide inhalation and two were hospitalized, hotel officials and authorities said.
Susan Kirby, acting general manager of the Princess Royale Hotel in the 9100 block of Coastal Highway, said a leak in the furnace room allowed carbon monoxide to seep into three rooms on the second floor of the 120-room hotel. She said the second and third floors were evacuated as a precaution.
About 100 guests were evacuated, mostly from the second floor, said fire Lt. Michael Maykrantz, a paramedic and firefighter with the Ocean City Fire Department.
One of three furnaces in the basement malfunctioned, causing carbon monoxide to spread through the heating and ventilation system, Lieutenant Maykrantz said.
Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas, can cause unconsciousness and death.
No serious injuries were reported, said Richard "Buzzy" Bayles, a dispatcher for the Ocean City Fire Department.
"It's all corrected now," Ms. Kirby said yesterday. "It was taken care of immediately. There was no threat to the rest of the hotel."
As a precaution, the Fire Department suggested that the two floors remain unoccupied at least overnight. Guests on those floors were assigned to other rooms.
Ms. Kirby estimated that the hotel had about 400 guests this holiday weekend.
Authorities believe the leak occurred about 6:30 a.m., when a family of five at the hotel called 911 to report that they were suffering from food poisoning, Mr. Bayles said. Later, other callers began to report similar symptoms, he said.
Nine guests were taken to Atlantic General Hospital. Two were admitted. The others were treated and released.
"The hospital determined it was not food poisoning, but it was something else," Mr. Bayles said.
Medical tests determined that carbon monoxide poisoning was the culprit, he said.
Those who were admitted were listed in stable condition, said Nancy Ahern, a nursing supervisor.
Others who became ill, including a fireman and a police officer, were given oxygen at the scene and monitored, Mr. Bayles said.
The hotel's second and third floors were declared off-limits so investigators could conduct their investigation, Mr. Bayles said.
"The air sampling equipment detected a higher than normal reading of carbon monoxide," he said.