Carbon Monoxide Sickens 10 People In Hazleton

HAZLETON, Pa. -- Twice this week Hazleton fire crews responded to calls for carbon monoxide alarms.

The cause? Rust, corrosion, and residue found within the heating systems of the homes.

"You know rust and stuff can cause different issues to cause it to burn improperly and not vent properly and then create carbon monoxide," said Paul Yanac, a senior service technician with Zola's Plumbing & Heating.

A carbon monoxide level below 35 parts per million is OK. Crews say the levels at the homes they responded to were much higher and could have been deadly. At one home, four people had to be taken to the hospital.

"High level of CO when we went up on the porch, I put my meter in the door it was at 300 with the door open," explained Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Jones of the Hazleton Fire Department. "Crews went inside down to the boiler in the basement it was over 1,400 in the basement."

The deputy fire chief here in Hazleton tells Newswatch 16 the recent incidents his crews have responded too could have been avoided with proper heating system maintenance.

"Like the one yesterday, we saw a rusty pipe on the back of the unit. I mean it was a visible defect that you would have saw if you just walked around the back of the unit and saw it," said Jones.

In all, 10 people in Hazleton had to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning this week. The fire department says they're all doing OK.

Service technicians with Zola's Plumbing & Heating say it all could have been avoided with a call.

"They want to have it checked annually. There's a misconception that gas boilers don't need to be checked every year. Any heating appliance that burns fossil fuel needs to be checked," said Yanac. "Whether it's coal, gas, oil, it's always good to get a technician that's trained to spot problems that could become potentially dangerous and to get eyes on it to prevent break downs and prevent dangerous situations."

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