Eight hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning in west end
TIM WIECLAWSKI/METRO OTTAWA
"It was worse on Tuesday, but I just thought I was getting the flu or something."
A faulty furnace likely caused a gas leak that hospitalized eight people and forced the evacuation of a 10-unit apartment building in the Bayshore area yesterday.
Emergency crews evacuated the two-storey building at 85 Woodridge Crescent around noon yesterday after a doctor determined that two patients admitted to Queensway-Carleton Hospital with severe headaches and vomiting had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to Ottawa Paramedics team leader Garth Tourangeau, four adults and two children among 14 people evacuated showed signs of poisoning. Those six remained in stable condition in hospital yesterday.
“There were eight patients reporting various symptoms. Some had headaches, some were nauseated, some had both,” he said.
Firefighters testing the air discovered “extremely dangerous” levels of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and low oxygen level throughout.
District Chief Frank Joyce said the gas had spread through the building and there were some pockets — in cupboards and other closed-in areas — where levels measured as high as 1,000 parts per million (ppm). Exposure to air contaminated at 800 ppm can be deadly within an hour.
A Technical Standards and Safety Authority inspector will examine the building to pinpoint the source of the leak, but District Chief Dennis Gobey said “we’ve narrowed it down and it is likely the furnace.”
Firefighters went unit-by-unit, flushing the air with high-powered fans. Investigators couldn’t enter the building until carbon monoxide gas levels had dropped below 35 ppm.
Paramedics also pulled building residents not home at the time away from their work and out of school in order to evaluate them.
Resident Wendy Carr returned home from work at noon only to be told by fire fighters that she could not enter her apartment. She was not suffering from symptoms, but said her daughters had been sick on and off since the weekend.
“It was worse on Tuesday, but I just thought I was getting the flu or something,” said Carr’s daughter, Krista.
Residents were briefly allowed back into their apartments to retrieve personal items, but had to find other overnight lodgings.
The building is a Minto property and spokesperson Gwen Cox said yesterday the firm wouldn’t comment until the leak investigation was complete.