Superior fire officials warn against carbon monoxideFirefighters responded to an up-down duplex Sunday night after a CO detector went off. Firefighters found the CO at dangerous levels.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Superior fire officials are urging people to use caution when using gas-powered equipment after a carbon monoxide incident Sunday night.
Firefighters responded to an up-down duplex on the 1200 block of Birch Avenue shortly before 10:30 p.m. because a CO detector went off. Firefighters found a CO level of 585 parts per million.
“I’ve never seen a CO level that high,” Superior Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Gordon said.
An odorless, tasteless and colorless gas, carbon monoxide can cause symptoms that can mimic flu and lead to unconsciousness and death. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 50 ppm is the maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure in any eight-hour period, with levels above 100 ppm being potentially lethal.
CO is created by the incomplete combustion of fuel.
The CO in the duplex apparently came from a gas-powered power washer the building owners had used to clean the basement, which had been flooded last week. They ran the power washer in the basement.
“I estimate they were at 1,000 ppm for an hour,” Gordon said. “Luckily they left because they weren’t feeling well.”
If they hadn’t the outcome could have been different, Gordon said. There was no CO detector in the basement, and it was an hour after the owners left before CO levels reached a high-enough concentration to trigger the alarm on the building’s first floor.
“We suggest having a CO detector on every level,” Gordon said.
Firefighters evacuated the upstairs residents and their pets, and tracked down the owners, who went to an area hospital to be examined.