Columbia Heights, MN – Ten people were evacuated from a mixed-use building in Columbia Heights after reporting carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms Saturday evening.
Each year, about 170 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning, but a carbon monoxide detector can provide a life-saving warning. They’re required by law in Minnesota, and one tenant of the Columbia Heights building says his went off just days after he insisted his landlord install one.
“I just figured it was a bad battery or something, so I climb on the chair and I look at the light and it says to seek air immediately,” Diono Alvin told Fox 9 News. “So, I got my family together, called 911 and got my family out of the house.”
Crews were called to the commercial and residential building located 1846 Central Ave. NE at 7:44 p.m. Upon arrival, investigators pinned the problem on a faulty boiler after firefighters evacuated the building.
“Some of the sicknesses and illnesses that me and my family have endured over the last 2.5 months is starting to make sense,” Alvin added.
The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning often mimic the flu, and can include:
“The carbon monoxide was so strong in this apartment that it was reading 80 and they boarded it off completely,” Alvin said.
MTC buses were called in to shelter the 10 people as well as representatives from the utility companies and those providing emergency medical support before the residents were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for evaluation. None of those affected were in serious condition.
Later on Sunday, the owner of the building, Mir Ali, said the problem was fixed and it was safe for residents to return; however, Alvin says the carbon monoxide is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems in his building.
“This is not safe,” he insisted. “This puts families at risk.”
Alvin said he has been fighting with his landlord over numerous code violations, and said building’s power supply is being held up by icy straps that present a potential electrical hazard.
“I personally believe his license should be revoked because, I mean, take a look around,” he said.
When asked about he conditions in the building, Ali said his tenant is just upset because he’s being evicted. He added that he did not know the electrical box was iced over, and said he would get it checked.
In 2012, the city ruled that one of Ali’s properties was not fit to live in and was bringing down property values.