A faulty boiler exhaust pipe is being blamed for the apparent carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of four people and a dog at a Wilmington, Delaware apartment complex. Now, the complex's owners plan to replace the entire exhaust system.
Evergreen Apartment Group, the owners of the Hidden Valley Apartment Complex at 500 Homestead Road, posted a notice Saturday saying an investigation in conjunction with county authorities found the deadly gas leak came from exhaust piping in Building G.
Police found four residents — three in one apartment and one in another — dead inside their homes around 5 p.m. Friday night. Officers were called to the complex after family members abruptly stopped hearing from their loved ones the day before.
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Carl "Timmy" Dunfee, Veronica Mousely, Andrew Spanakos and their dog were all found in the same apartment, family members tell NBC10. In the apartment above theirs, Nancy Uniacke was found dead.
"You look at Wilmington and you look at what might go down in Wilmington, or anywhere — and you don't think it's going to be an odorless gas. That's not the thing that you think it's gonna be," said Martin Uniacke, Nancy's youngest brother said.
The complex was evacuated and eight other residents were taken local hospitals for treatment. Only one person remained hospitalized Saturday.
Evergreen officials say the boiler and exhaust system is required to inspected by state officials every two years. It passed the last inspection, the owners said.
The owners have decided to replace the exhaust pipes in every building in the complex as a precaution, the letter said.
Since the replacement will require boilers to be shut down, residents will be forced to leave until the work is completed. A timeline for the work wasn't available. The decision didn't immediately assuage resident's fears, though.
"My biggest fear is that it would happen again and we won't make it out again," Jalil Dorsey said. "What if it happens again, and next time we don't make it out? Next time it might be us up there."
While officials believe carbon monoxide poisoning is to blame, they're waiting for autopsies to positively confirm the cause of death.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced by combustible engines in vehicles, gas generators and other heating elements. Poisoning symptoms are described as flu-like with dizziness, nausea and chest pain. People who are drunk or sleeping are especially susceptible to death from the gas.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 4,000 people are hospitalized every year from CO poisoning. More than 400 people die. Here's some tips to avoid CO poisoning in your home.