3 kids among 7 hospitalized from high CO levels in Harrison Twp. home

Seven people, including three children, were taken to the hospital Tuesday after becoming ill due to high levels of carbon monoxide in their home.

Now, the adults are back inside the home that has an “unsafe house” notice posted on the door by the fire department.

Fire officials said four generators were running inside with no ventilation when they responded around 11:50 a.m. to the 4400 block of Canyon Road. The house doesn’t have power, officials said.

Melissa Armstrong said she believed the high CO was caused by a wood burning stove.

“My son-in-law turned on the wood burning stove this morning and I guess that’s what filled up the house with carbon monoxide,” Armstrong told News Center 7’s Katy Andersen. “I had a real bad headache.”

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Normal CO levels are 32 ppm; levels inside the house were found over 200 ppm, officials said. After discovering the high levels, crews contacted Northridge schools and had the school nurse check on two children who had been living there.

Armstong said her doctor told her if they were in the house for four more hours, they would have been dead. She said they called 911 after noticing one of the children, her son-in-law and the family pet didn’t feel right.

Armstrong told News Center 7 several of her family members had to move into the Canyon Road house after the Memorial Day tornadoes damaged their houses elsewhere.

Children Services arrived around 1:20 p.m. Armstrong said the children can return once the house has electricity.

Fire officials said in addition to the generators and wood burning stove, the house also was filthy.

“We’re going to try to get this property condemned by the health department,” Harrison Twp. Fire Chief Mark Lynch said.

The family returned to the house Tuesday evening, and Armstrong said they were given permission to go back in by the Harrison Twp. Fire Department.

“They said we could stay, wasn’t putting us out of the house,” Armstrong said Tuesday night.

She also pointed out the notice on the door shows corrective actions to take, which Armstrong said could be fixed by moving the generators and wood burning stove in the basement outside.

Armstrong said they’ve been running a generator inside for months.

“We had no problems until he put that wood in that wood burning stove. I’m saying it’s the wood burning stove that about killed us,” she said.

When asked why she went back to the house where her doctor said she could have died just hours earlier, she replied: “I’ve got to live somewhere.”

According to the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office website, the house has been owned since at least 1998 by Clarence N. Gibbs, who lists a Palm Bay, Florida, post office box for his address.

>> CO call at Harrison Twp. house one of more than 20 calls for service there in last year

Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies have been called to the house at least 20 times for drugs, domestic violence, thefts and a shooting within the last year, according to dispatch records.

In April, a shooting victim was found inside the home. The victim had been shot 12 hours before anyone called 911, and the victim had refused help. Shell casings were found inside the home.

>> Sheriff: Shooting victim refused help, found 12 hours after incident

If you are without power and are using a generator, this is what you need to know, according to the American Red Cross.

  • Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area
  • Keep the devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors
  • Opening doors and windows or using fan will not prevent CO buildup in a home
  • CO can't be seen or smelled. If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately. Do not delay.
  • Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to fresh air

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