1 dead after carbon monoxide poisoning

January 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
At least one person has died on Monday night from carbon monoxide poisoning in San Francisco and as many as six other people are being treated. Their apartment building at Geary and Larkin has been evacuated and for a time Geary Boulevard was shut down.

Firefighters started piecing together that something was wrong in the air in the apartment building when they came for the second time on Monday night. The first time they came, they transported a man to the hospital with severe respiratory problems.

About 30 minutes later, they were called again by a family who found their loved one unconscious in his apartment. Other residents were talking about a funny smell.

Firefighters tested the air and discovered high levels of carbon monoxide. The highest levels were coming from the basement. That's when they found a water heater or a boiler that wasn't properly ventilated.

There was also a beeping sound coming from one apartment, but the tenant hadn't been home in a few days. Firefighters went inside the apartment and the beeping was coming from a carbon monoxide detector.

A couple and their three kids say they have all had headaches and they started smelling something funny on Sunday night.

"You feel like nauseous, dizzy and she was feeling really bad headaches. I told them I was feeling the same thing," said Tomas Mendez, a resident.

"I was getting ready to go to sleep, to go to work tomorrow, so it's a good thing that they got people out before they went to sleep tonight," said Billy Broma, a resident.

Firefighters say carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, but that these levels were so high that there actually was a smell. They evacuated the building and cleared out the air for at least two and a half hours, hoping to get everyone safely back home. The American Red Cross was at the scene Monday night for those residents who didn't feel comfortable going back to their home.

The man who was taken to the hospital did test positive for having high levels of carbon monoxide. When he was first taken to the hospital he was in critical condition, but by 11 p.m. on Monday night his condition improved to a stable condition.

As for the man who passed away, it has not yet been confirmed that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning. They have not yet done an autopsy, but he was found close to the basement. He was on the first floor.


This wasn't the only case of carbon monoxide poisoning in the Bay Area on Monday. During the afternoon in Cupertino, eight people had to be treated for exposure, including three firefighters and three paramedics. It happened in the clubhouse of the City Center Apartment Complex on Stevens Creek Boulevard.