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Carbon monoxide kills one at apartment, another critical

By: BOB STEPHENS
October 7, 2012
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photo - Neighbors at the scene of a possible carbon monoxide poisoning death Sunday, October 7, 2012 at an apartment complex on Potter Drive. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette Photo by
Neighbors at the scene of a possible carbon monoxide poisoning death Sunday, October 7, 2012 at an apartment complex on Potter Drive. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette Photo by  

Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide Sunday at the Peak Vista Apartments apparently caused one death and left another person in critical condition at a local hospital.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department found two unconscious men at 1216 Potter Drive while responding to a non-emergency 911 call from the neighbor at 11:48 a.m. Several people reported that carbon monoxide alarms were going off in the building and that they were feeling sick with symptoms associated with carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Both men were critical,” said fire Lt. Stacy Billapando “Firefighters worked on them. One was dead on the scene. The other is in a hyperbaric chamber at a local hospital.”

Nine families that live in the same 12-apartment building — there are more than a dozen buildings in the complex, located across from Mitchell High School — were displaced until it was deemed safe to return. The apartment owner was footing the bill for them to stay at a local hotel.

All residents of the building were evacuated, Billapando said. No animals were affected, she said.

Billapando said the department’s hazardous materials team checked the carbon monoxide level in the apartment and it “was extremely high.” She said Colorado Springs Utilities was testing to determine the cause of the high gas levels, but results were unknown.

The apartment manager declined comment.

Billapando said the company that services furnace units for the complex was on the way to Peak Vista Apartments and would check all units for safety.

Fire spokeswoman Sunny Smaldino said the poisonous gas doesn’t smell, doesn’t taste, and causes flu-like symptoms, including headaches, nausea and vomiting.

“You feel sick so you lay down in your bed because you don’t feel good,” Smaldino said.

She said the poisonous gas can come from anything that burns fuel, including heaters and gas-powered appliances.

Billapando encourages everyone to get their furnace checked once a year, to make sure they keep their vents clear, and to check all carbon monoxide monitors and smoke detectors.

“It’s the season where we get our furnaces going, light candles and set up Christmas trees,” Billapando said. “We want everyone to be as safe as possible.”

-- More on carbon monoxide HERE

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens

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