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Carbon monoxide scare at Essex assisted living facility

(WCAX)
Published: May. 1, 2018 at 3:45 PM EDT
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Catherine Bruce's mother lives at Mansfield Place in Essex. The assisted living facility is normally quiet. But not Tuesday morning.

"We usually take a little walk and we went to the second floor and all the action started," Bruce said.

All that action was because of a carbon monoxide leak. The deadly gas was found lurking in the first- second- and third-floor hallways, the stairwells, elevator shaft, basement and parking garage.

"We believe it was caused by a gas-powered piece of machinery being operated in the parking garage," Essex Fire Capt. Matthew LaRock said.

Firefighters say they immediately started ventilating the building. Four people were taken to the hospital with possible CO exposure symptoms. The rest were evaluated on scene and residents remained in their rooms.

"We made the decision because this is an assisted living facility with memory care to leave the occupants in place. We had no levels of carbon monoxide in the rooms themselves," LaRock said.

Despite all the hubbub, Bruce says what could have been a very stressful situation was managed well by first responders.

"They had everything pretty much in control. People go to their rooms and you just stay in an area so they know where you are," Bruce said.

Crews wrapped up on scene early in the afternoon.

Firefighters say there's no safe level of carbon monoxide. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.