Update 10 a.m. Thursday —

Hospital staff confirm that 16 people eventually sought treatment at the Cayuga Medical Center in connection with the carbon monoxide leak at the West Village Apartments on Wednesday.

“We had a pediatric patient, a 16-year-old who went to Upstate (University Hospital in Syracuse), just for evaluation but is very stable,” said John Turner, vice president for community relations at CMC.

Published Wednesday:

Ithaca, N.Y. — Five people were hospitalized in Ithaca after a carbon monoxide leak at the West Village Apartments on Wednesday, according to the Ithaca Fire Department.

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Lt. Thomas Basher said the five people who were transported had dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in their blood.

Firefighters took measurements in the building that showed CO levels of over 300 parts per million, Basher said. 35 parts per million is considered dangerous, he said.

“At sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible,” the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website states.

Around 12:30 p.m., firefighters were called to the 600 block of Chestnut Street for a report of a malfunctioning boiler.

There, they detected high levels of the colorless, odorless, dangerous gas. The apartments were ventilated as Bangs Ambulance took five people to the Cayuga Medical Center for treatment, according to Basher.

When firefighters arrived, one resident was complaining of a headache and drowsiness. Another said that the CO detector had been going off but, thinking it was simply low on battery, had just removed the battery.

One woman “stated that the children were sleepy and she had a hard time waking them up,” a press release said.

An investigation discovered that a 3-inch vent stack “had become disconnected from the running boiler, exhausting into the mechanical room,” firefighters said in a news release. The exhaust then traveled into the connected apartments.

The fire department said the following in a statement:

The Ithaca Fire Department reminds everyone to have a working CO detector in their homes. Install a CO detector near the sleeping area, where it can wake you. Additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home provides extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do not to install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as they may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up. A detector should not be placed within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or in, or near, very humid areas such as bathrooms.

If your CO detector chips once every 20 seconds or so, replace the battery. If your CO detector goes into full alarm, exit the home, and call 911. The Fire Department and the local Utility Company will come and investigate the problem.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.