Carbon monoxide exposure sends ten people in Littleton to hospital on New Year's Day

Officials stress importance of home CO detectors

LITTLETON, Colo. - Authorities are still searching a Littleton home for the source of carbon monoxide poisoning that sent 10 sick people to the hospital on New Year's Day.

The call came in from the home at 9531 West Hialeah Place, near South Kipling Parkway and West Belleview Avenue, just after 11 a.m.

Five adults and four children all had symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and were transported by ambulance, said Gary Armstrong, Division Chief of West Metro Fire. A 10th individual -- a child -- was taken to the hospital by family members

The initial call came in as a report of people feeling sick, Armstrong said.

Arriving fire crews found there were no carbon monoxide detectors in the house. They also found lethal levels of the gas throughout the home -- seven and a half times what's considered dangerous.

"We definitely had elevated carbon monoxide readings within the home," Armstrong said.

The victims were treated St. Anthony Hospital and are expected to be OK.

A neighbor said the gas quickly sickened residents of the home.

 "One of the little girls called her dad this morning to say she was getting sick and she didn't feel well and she needed to come home from the sleepover," said neighbor Heidi O'Leary. "Dad came over and, about the time he walked in the door, it sounded like everyone started throwing up."

Fire officials call carbon monoxide a "silent killer" that can swiftly overcome people before they can react.

"It's a colorless, odorless gas that kills people and it's so deceiving," Armstrong said.

It was very lucky this happened in the morning, Armstrong said. If the CO had struck during the night, when the family was asleep, it could have been fatal.

"Unfortunately, there was not a functioning detector in this particular residence and that's really why you have sick people and it's a great reminder for everybody to have a carbon monoxide detector that works properly," Armstrong said.

Fire officials remind people to make sure they have a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of their home. The detectors generally last about seven years.

Officials still had not located the source of the carbon monoxide leak on Tuesday afternoon. The search for the leak will continue on Wednesday.