Fire and EMS units were dispatched to a house in Woodloch Springs, Thursday night, June 22, for a severe carbon monoxide (CO) leak. There were 14 people in the residence at the time, who were checked at Wayne Memorial Hospital and released.

LACKAWAXEN TOWNSHIP - Fire and EMS units were dispatched to a house in Woodloch Springs, Thursday night, June 22, for a severe carbon monoxide (CO) leak. There were 14 people in the residence at the time, who were checked at Wayne Memorial Hospital and released.

Officials were stressing that this was a good lesson for everyone to be sure that they have working carbon monoxide detectors in the home.

Forest Volunteer Fire Department, Central Volunteer Fire Department, Hawley Fire Department and various ambulance companies were called out at 9:18 p.m. The house is located on Woodloch Drive near Hilltop Circle.
Rory O’Fee, Marketing Director for Woodloch, said that this was one of approximately 400 private homes located at Woodloch. He said the furnace had leaked CO, and the CO detectors sounded. The residents made up an extended family, from grandparents to small children- including an 18-month-old baby. They all made it out safe.

According to Chief Wayne Rosengrant, Forest Volunteer Fire Department, the meters showed that the CO level in the house was “dangerously high,” about 700 parts per million. He said in all his time, this was the “worst” he had seen with CO, in terms of the number of potential victims and the CO readings. He had Central and Hawley fire departments check the home as well with their meters, to be sure this wasn’t some issue with Forest’s meter.

Someone in the household called 9-1-1, and was told by the dispatcher to immediately evacuate the house. The family was on the back porch when the fire company pulled up.

Woodloch has its own EMS team as well, and were immediately dispatched, O’Fee said.

EMS personnel checked the family members with a meter applied to the finger, that determines the CO level in their blood streams. Each of them showed high readings, Rosengrant said. Ambulances from Lackawaxen, Tafton and Hawley transported them to Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale.

Fire personnel, donning air masks and oxygen tanks, entered the house to isolate the source of the problem. They made sure the furnace was turned off, and the gas line was turned off as well, just in case. Rosengrant said he believes that the furnace is fueled by propane. The heat to the house was turned off at the time of the incident, but the furnace was supplying heat to the hot water tank.

Fire personnel aired out the house, but the CO levels did not go down as fast as he would have liked, the Chief said, so the house was left open to air out overnight. He advised the homeowner not to re-enter the house until they had the furnace checked.

O’Fee said the family was put up for the night at Woodloch Pines Resort.
The need for CO detectors is paramount, Chief Rosengrant emphasized. CO, he said, has no odor and you can’t see it. There’s no way of telling if you have a CO leak unless there is a meter. Symptoms often develop, such as nausea and headaches, but in this case, there were really no complaints- he said one of the family mentioned a slight headache.

Given the hour- after 9 p.m., it was also very likely that soon, members of the household might have been going to bed. Sleeping in a closed-up house, with a CO leak, Chief Rosengrant said, would have been “catastrophic.” CO could have killed them.

“You never know if you are sleeping,” he said.

O’Fee also stated, “This shows the importance of having CO detectors and smoke detectors.”

The Chief recommends having a CO detector on each level of the house, and like smoke detectors, be sure they are working and are powered. CO detectors can be purchased locally, he said, such as at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. They plug in, and have a battery back-up in case of a power failure.

They are not smoke detectors, he warned. Residents also need to have working smoke detectors in the home as well.