ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Ten people are hospitalized after a carbon monoxide leak at a St. Paul duplex Monday morning.
St. Paul fire officials say it happened on Burr Street just after 9 a.m. Initially, callers reported the incident as an unknown illness and told first responders they were feeling flu-like symptoms.
After all residents of the upper and lower units of the duplex were evacuated, all were transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. At least two of them were treated in the hospital’s hyperbaric chamber.
Fire and medical crews on the scene later determined a faulty boiler was the cause of the leak. The building is now condemned until officials can figure out exactly what happened.
One of the victims, Poa Thao, said he just thought he was dealing with a horrible migraine when he woke up Monday morning.
“I just had a hard time waking up this morning. I didn’t even pick up my wife yesterday at work, I didn’t even know that I slept through it,” Thao said.
“This morning I was in a lot of pain, I was stumbling and then I told my wife to go and grab some medicine for me. And so she came back and already seen the ambulance and everybody here. If it wasn’t for the downstairs people that called the cops, we probably didn’t wake up.”
Fresh out of the hospital, Pao Thao was counting his blessings after surviving carbon monoxide poisoning.
He says he started feeling sick inside his duplex apartment Saturday. He woke up Monday with a massive headache.
“When I got up I was stumbling all over the place, I couldn’t even stand up for more than five seconds or so,” he said.
Meanwhile his neighbors in the apartment below him also felt sick and called 911.
“The first crew on scene recognized that this may be different and used a different piece of equipment to measure the CO levels within the patients,” said Deputy Chief Butch Inks, St. Paul Fire Department.
Deputy Chief Inks said the test results showed all ten people in the duplex had carbon monoxide levels of 20 to 45 percent in their blood stream.
Thao said he had the second highest levels in the duplex, with the highest belonging to a woman who lived in the apartment below him.
“She didn’t even open her eyes at all, she didn’t even get up. I’m hoping she’s doing OK,” he said.
Thao and the woman both received oxygen treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.
Investigators determined a faulty boiler caused the poisonous gas to leak.
The duplex has CO detectors — but investigators say they weren’t working properly.
Thao was mad to hear that news, but rather than be angry he’s focused on being thankful.
“[I] was grateful that [the neighbors] called the police to come, If not, I don’t think I would be here right now,” he said.
The duplex was condemned. Thao and his wife plan on staying at a relative’s house.
Deputy Chief Inks said the fire department and HCMC were working to help the family of eight find a place to stay.
WCCO tried talking with the landlord at the duplex but he couldn’t be reached.