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13 taken to hospital, 2 in critical condition in Vancouver due to carbon monoxide poisoning

Last Updated Dec 6, 2018 at 6:55 am PST

Summary

13 people were sent to the hospital, 2 in critical condition, after a carbon monoxide leak in Vancouver

FortisBC says a technician determined it was a problem with the boiler at the building on West 5th Avenue

WorkSafeBC will complete an inspection report this week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –  Thirteen people were taken to hospital, two of them in critical condition due to carbon monoxide poisoning at a commercial building on West 5 Avenue in Vancouver.

B.C. Emergency Health Services says paramedics responded to a call of a person who had collapsed just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday. When they arrived at the scene, paramedics’ CO monitors immediately detected carbon monoxide. FortisBC sent a technician to the building Wednesday morning and found a problem with the boiler.

Health officials had to treat a total of 17 cases were reported over the past four days related to carbon monoxide poisonings in Vancouver. Three were treated as severe.

One of the responding doctors says most of them have since been released. He said the woman who collapsed is unwell and remains in hospital.

“A lot of them came in through emergency,” Dr. Bruce Campana tells NEWS 1130. “Most of them could be managed just with oxygen masks.”

He also says it’s a good idea to have a carbon monoxide and smoke detector on each floor, and even in each bedroom of a home.

“Carbon monoxide …. is a colourless, odourless gas, and it can just sneak in there, and you won’t notice, and it can make you unconscious,” he says. “If you continue to be exposed, it can kill you, which is how lots of people die.”

FortisBC says they were called in to investigate and arrived around 10:30 a.m. Scott Neufeld, a spokesperson for the utility, says a technician identified it was a boiler causing the problem. A technician then turned off the appliance.

“I wouldn’t say it’s common,” he says. “I’d say that people who regularly maintain their natural gas appliances, have them regularly inspected, don’t have this kind of problem.”

FortisBC is recommending natural gas appliances be inspected regularly, and maintained by licenced natural gas contractors to prevent these kinds of leaks from happening.

WorkSafeBC to complete inspection report this week

WorkSafeBC will be following up with the employer of the people poisoned by carbon monoxide this week, according to Trish Chernecki, communications for agency.

“A carbon monoxide release is a serious matter,” she writes in an email to NEWS 1130. “WorkSafeBC has been to the site of the incident today and will be following up with the employer. The employer is required to to (sic) complete a preliminary Employer Incident Inspection Report within 48 hours and workers are not to return to the workplace until it is safe.”

She adds that “other agencies may be involved” in determining what happened, how to prevent this scenario from happening again in the future, and what the next steps are following the incident.

-With files from Taran Parmar