Seven children hospitalized in Essex after carbon monoxide is detected

Metro

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August 20, 2005|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

In the townhouse complex where an Essex man and his two teenage stepdaughters died last month of carbon monoxide poisoning, seven children at an unlicensed day-care operation and two adults were hospitalized yesterday after a carbon monoxide detector sounded, authorities said.

A faulty pipe inside a hot-water heater caused the poisonous gas to leak into the two-story rowhouse, said Baltimore County Battalion Chief Joe Fannon. Authorities blamed a similar problem - a misaligned vent pipe leading from a water heater - for the carbon monoxide build-up that killed 48-year-old Norman Sylvester Wiley and his two stepdaughters, Sheriesa Bernay King, 15, and Ja-Na Liett Jones, 14, in their house on High Seas Court on July 19.

Yesterday's incident was two houses away, and it prompted firefighters to evacuate two nearby units in the Cove Village townhouse complex. Eight people, including seven children, ranging in age from infant to teenage, at 24 High Seas Court were taken to hospitals for observation and possible treatment after complaining of symptoms that can signal carbon monoxide poisoning, Fannon said.

An adult from a house next door was also hospitalized, he said. Authorities did not identify the victims.

Firefighters who arrived at the house about 2 p.m. found the levels of carbon monoxide to be 90 parts per million on the second floor, Fannon said. Most carbon monoxide detectors sound an alarm when the level of gas reaches 30 parts per million.

After the July deaths, two carbon monoxide detectors were installed in each of the 299 townhouses by Sawyer Realty Holdings, the College Park-based company that owns and manages the complex. Chris Davis, an official with the company, said the company also inspected the appliances, paying particular attention to the venting pipes.

He said the company was investigating yesterday's incident and fixing the problem with the hot-water heater in the house, and might also replace appliances in other units.

But residents on High Seas Court said yesterday that they remain concerned about the hot-water heaters and furnaces.

"Something else needs to be done about this before someone else dies," said Denise Stemple, who has lived on High Seas Court for nearly 20 years. "There has to be a reason the carbon monoxide is so high and that this keeps happening."

Carbon monoxide - which is odorless, tasteless and invisible - is produced by incomplete combustion of fuels.

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