Carbon Monoxide Sends Four To Hospitals

December 19, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,

Four people, including a baby, were taken from a Baltimore County apartment complex to hospitals Friday afternoon with carbon monoxide poisoning.

When firefighters arrived at the Eagles Crest Complex in Fullerton, they found a 20-year-old woman holding an 11-month-old unconscious girl, said Fire Department spokeswoman Elise Armacost. They had made it out of their unit at 7508 Twincrest Court, but crews had to rescue a 44-year-old woman who was unconscious in the apartment, she said.

The three were taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the older woman was later transferred to a hyperbaric chamber at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Armacost said. The 44-year-old and the baby were in critical condition Friday evening.

A 62-year-old man who lives in an adjacent apartment was put on a stretcher and taken to Franklin Square Hospital Center. The identities of the four people were not released. Six other people were treated at the scene, Armacost said.

Casey Proctor, who also lives at 7508 Twincrest, said she was in the shower when she heard pounding on her door and orders to evacuate. Proctor scooped up her infant son and left.

Proctor said she had called emergency maintenance for Hirschfeld Management, which runs the complex, on Thursday night to complain about having no hot water and a "rotten eggs" smell. She said a maintenance worker responded about 8:30 a.m. Friday.

About 1:30 p.m., after helping residents, firefighters found readings of 900 parts per million of the odorless, colorless gas at 7508 Twincrest, Armacost said. The level at 7510 Twincrest was 375 ppm.

Resident Jim McDonald saw paramedics helping one of the women. "She looked like she was in bad shape," he said.

A man who identified himself as being with Hirschfeld was at the complex but declined to comment.

The source of the carbon monoxide, which is produced by an incomplete combustion of fossil and wood fuels, was under investigation. Low levels - about 200 ppm - can produce headache, fatigue and nausea after a couple of hours. At 800 or 900 ppm, people can become unconscious or die in a similar amount of time.

Armacost said no carbon monoxide detectors were found. On Monday, the County Council is expected to vote on a bill requiring them in rental units.

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