Wichita, KS – Fumes send 10 workers to hospital

BY Brent D. Wistrom,The Wichita Eagle

Someone left a forklift running inside Burnham Composites Inc. on Friday afternoon, sending 10 people to Wesley Medical Center with carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities and the company’s president said.

Seven other people were treated at the scene after complaining of nausea and headaches.

No one else was in the building at the time, company president Todd Dugan said.

Two of the hospitalized employees were in serious condition. The other eight were not in critical condition and were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

The incident was reported at 12:40 p.m.

When firefighters arrived, employees were in the parking lot. Some were vomiting, and others complained of headaches and nausea, Fire Marshal Ed Bricknell said.

Firefighters used fans to ventilate the building, at 3830 Bounous St., near Harry and West Street.

The forklift was left running inside the building. No doors were open, and the rubber flaps in front of one garage door did not let enough of carbon monoxide out, Bricknell said.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas that can accumulate during combustion in poorly ventilated areas.

There were no known problems with the forklift, but it was taken to a mechanic to be checked anyway, Dugan said.

The company manufactures composites for the aerospace industry, Dugan said. The company was operational about an hour after the incident was reported, he said.