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Nine Hospitalized after Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Carbon monoxide poisoning sent nine people to the hospital after several became ill Monday inside a Lancaster city (Pa.) home, a fire official said.

Four adults were transported by ambulance Monday night while four children under the age of 11 were driven to the hospital by their father who wanted them checked out, city fire Capt. Fred Lenhart said.

Earlier in the day, a woman was taken to the hospital after she began feeling ill in the home, Lenhart said.

Names and conditions of the victims were not available Tuesday.

Emergency personnel were sent to 738 Lehigh Ave. shortly before 9 p.m. after a man called 9-1-1 to report that several people in the home were ill. Crews arrived to find a man in his 20s lying on the porch, Lenhart said.
"He was very overcome and barely conscious," he added. "They got him on oxygen and then just grabbed him and took off."

Medics immediately retrieved three other adults from inside the home and took them to the hospital as well. Lenhart said firefighters measured carbon monoxide levels of 440 to 480 parts per million in the home. A reading above 32 is considered toxic.

Levels reaching 550 were recorded in an adjacent home but no one there was feeling sick, Lenhart said. He said it appeared that family had been out of the house for some time and had just returned home. Officials evacuated that home as well and ventilated both dwellings. Lenhart said the occupants of 738 Lehigh Ave. likely were surrounded by high levels of carbon monoxide, which is colorless and odorless, for four to eight hours.

In fact, Lenhart said, earlier Monday a woman was taken from the home by ambulance after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

When her husband returned home from being with her at the hospital, he found other family members "laying on couches and not acting right," Lenhart added. "He put two and two together and called 9-1-1. We're very fortunate that he recognized what was going on when he did. Quite frankly, if those people would've gone to sleep in that house (Monday night) they probably wouldn't have woken up."

Lenhart said firefighters traced the high carbon monoxide levels to a furnace in the home at 738 Lehigh Ave., which is owned by Thinh Van Le and Dianh Thi Pham, according to county records.

Fire personnel "tagged" the furnace, which requires the homeowner to have the equipment repaired or replaced, he said.

The homeowner then is required to notify the city fire marshal's office that the issue has been addressed. The residents of the neighboring home were able to return to their house Monday night and had offered shelter to their neighbors, who are relatives, according to Lenhart.

"This serves as another opportunity to remind people to stay on top of furnace maintenance," Lenhart said. "Sure, there will be some cost to it, but the price you pay otherwise could be more than you ever imagined."

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