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‘Fatal in hours:’ Initial reading at Leland apartment complex showed significant level of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide call
Carbon monoxide call(WECT)
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 6:09 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Leland’s Harrington Square Apartments were awash in red lights Thursday.

The fire department responded to a call for what was initially thought to be a gas leak. However, firefighters quickly learned the building contained significant levels of carbon monoxide and began evacuating people from their units.

“It was tough for the residents, it was raining,” said resident Miguel Riesch. “The medical staff was good, passing by and asking people if they were ok, if they were able to breathe.”

Construction equipment in the lower level of the complex was determined to be the culprit, filling the first floor and spreading the deadly gas throughout the homes in the building.

The fire chief says when units arrived on scene, initial readings showed 300 ppm of carbon monoxide. Most homes stay at 0 or 1 ppm, and a reading of 9 ppm is considered significant.

“So, 300 ppm, in one to two hours, someone would experience physical symptoms, and it could be fatal in three hours,” said Leland Fire Captain Marvin Brooks.

Someone suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning might feel nausea, headache, or confusion, but those signs are hard to spot if they’ve been drinking or have gone to sleep for the night.

“You can’t taste, it you can’t smell, it you can’t see it, so get an alarm,” said Capt. Brooks.

No one knows what would have happened if a building alarm didn’t tip firefighters off and dispatch them to the complex to address the danger. While residents are grateful no one was hurt, they’re hopeful this cautionary tale can be a lesson to all.

“It’s scary very scary stuff,” said Riesch. ”The construction company, management also, be aware of what’s going on.”

WECT asked officials if there’s any penalty, or consequences associated with this kind of situation but we’re still working to get those answers. WECT reached out to the property management company for a statement on the carbon monoxide scare and haven’t heard back.

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