Poisonous gas sickens Amsterdam family
Generator being used inside house caused CO exposure
AMSTERDAM Eleven people were taken to hospitals early Wednesday for carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator in their basement being used to power the home.
Firefighters were called to 77-79 Brookside Ave. around 4 a.m. for reports of a child who had woken up in the middle of the night vomiting.
National Grid had cut the power to the two-family home, which was occupied by the immediate and extended family of Elvid Hart. A portable gasoline-powered generator in the basement was being used as a power source.
Firefighters reported carbon monoxide levels to be 540 parts per million on the first floor, 247 ppm on the second floor and 52 ppm on the third floor. Prolonged exposure to levels above 200 ppm can have serious physical effects, including death.
The home was occupied by five adults and six children aged 7 months to 9 years.
Two adults had already taken themselves to St. Mary’s Hospital by the time firefighters arrived, another adult and the children were taken to the hospital by the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and two adults refused medical treatment at the scene but were later transported to the hospital for treatment.
Two of the children were then transported to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse for further treatment. Fire Chief Richard Liberti said a 2-year-old had a 31 percent carbon monoxide reading, which he said is extremely high.
Family members Wednesday said one of the adults transported to the hospital was pregnant.
All the family members except those taken to Syracuse have been released, Liberti said.
Upon further inspection, firefighters noticed several other code violations at the building, the most severe of which was the use of an uninhabitable attic as a bedroom, Liberti said.
The home had no smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, and extension cords with open splices in them were running throughout the house. The family was running extension cords from the basement to the second floor through windows to power their refrigerator, Liberti said.
The home has been deemed uninhabitable and the owner has been cited for violations of the state Fire Prevention and Building Code.
“I’m not going to let anyone live there until the violations are corrected,” Liberti said.
Montgomery County property records indicate the home is owned by Yoel Brody of Brooklyn. Out-of-town landlords are required to designate a local representative to receive code violations from city officials. In this case, the local representative is Hart.
Liberti said the family is currently being assisted by the Red Cross of Northeastern New York.
National Grid spokesman Steve Brady said he was prohibited by law and company policy from discussing individual accounts. However, he said a number of different steps are taken before National Grid cuts service to a customer including notices, payment plans and referrals to government programs. Cutting service to a customer is seen as a last resort.
“Eventually we have to be paid for the services we provide,” Brady said. “But National Grid does everything in its power to make sure that customer stays in service.”