Five Arundel residents treated for carbon monoxide poisoning

February 22, 2004|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Five people, including two pregnant girls, were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning yesterday after a furnace malfunction in their Annapolis apartment building, a city fire official said.

Battalion Chief Michael Lonergan said that one of the residents called 911 about 7:10 a.m. complaining that all four people in the apartment were experiencing severe nausea and headaches.

Based on the symptoms and the number of victims, the dispatchers sent a carbon monoxide response team, he said.

Three of the victims, a 23-year-old man, a 17-year-old girl who is three months' pregnant, and a 17-year-old girl who is five months' pregnant, were flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore to receive treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.

Another man from the apartment and a woman who lived upstairs were taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Firefighters measured 390 parts per million of carbon monoxide in the air, more than 10 times the danger level, Lonergan said.

The Fire Department did not release the names of the victims, but Lonergan said yesterday afternoon that the three who were taken to Shock Trauma were listed in fair condition.

Other residents in the apartment complex said the victims had lived there for less than a month.

When firefighters and paramedics arrived at the Forest Village complex on Thom Court, they evacuated the rest of the building.

Residents - several of whom, like the victims, speak only Spanish - said it was confusing and frightening to hear pounding on their doors at 7:30 in the morning.

Randy Hackler, who lives a floor above the victims, said he was waking up for work when he heard someone screaming outside and then someone pounding on the doors, yelling for people to get out.

Residents were allowed back in their apartments about three hours later. In the meantime, apartment management opened the office and provided coffee and bagels for those displaced.

Kathie Dzbinski, a vice president for A&G Management Company, which owns Forest Village, said company officials were in touch with the victims' families and had heard that they were recovering.

Dzbinski said maintenance workers were examining the victims' apartment and the others in the building to make sure the source of the carbon monoxide is found and eliminated.

"We're just relieved that everyone is OK," she said. "We're absolutely thankful for that."

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