Carbondale, PA – By Josh Brodesky TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
CARBONDALE — Firefighters didn’t have to travel far Wednesday when they received a call that eight construction workers were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning at a city shopping center.
Area firefighters were already at the Carbondale Shopping Center, 160 Brooklyn St., for an equipment show they call a “rescue roundup” when they received the call around 5 p.m.
One construction worker passed out from the gas and was taken to Mercy Hospital in Scranton, where firefighters said he was in stable condition.
The other seven construction workers were taken to Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale for checkups.
Fire officials would not release the names of the construction workers.
“The rescue roundup turned into ‘we-need-to-commandeer-your-equipment,'” said Tom Brennan, chief of the Carbondale Fire Department.
Chief Brennan said construction workers were using gas-powered tile cutters and saws while renovating the inside of the former Ames Department Store, which closed in August 2002 after 26 years in business.
When one worker passed out from the fumes, Chief Brennan said, the others called 911.
According to Tim Baron, director of Carbondale’s emergency management agency, at 5 p.m. the carbon monoxide levels registered at about 500 parts-per-million inside the building. By 6:30 p.m. that level had dropped to 92 parts-per-million.
“Anything over 10 is dangerous,” Mr. Baron said. “The one guy was pretty sick, but they were lucky. If they had been in there for a few hours more they would have been in trouble.”
While most of the firefighters from Cottage Rescue 51, Mayfield Borough, William Walker Hose Company and Greenfield Fire Department met on the other side of the parking lot to go through with the evening’s display, Carbondale firefighters lowered the carbon monoxide levels in the store by using a positive pressure fan to suck out fumes and force the toxic gas out the back door.
Chief Brennan said the incident is under investigation.