Allentown, PA – By Angela Pomponio, Morning Call
An Allentown couple and three children were pulled from their home in the nick of time Wednesday after a blocked chimney filled their rooms with carbon monoxide, officials said.
At 2:15 a.m., Jacqueline White dialed 911 when her boyfriend, Robert Mosses, carried their motionless pit bull upstairs and then sprawled out on their couch.
”I just thought I was freaking out,” White, 27, said. ”He lay on the couch and that was it. He wasn’t coherent.”
Minutes later, police helped White out of the three-story home at 153 Oak St., but firefighters had to carry Mosses. A 2-week-old baby and two children were ”dazed,” but fine, firefighters said.
Carbon monoxide levels were extremely high at nearly 500 parts per million in the brick row home’s basement and first-floor rooms, city Fire Marshal Robert Scheirer said.
”That’s pretty bad,” Scheirer said. ”It’s supposed to be zero.”
White, Mosses and the children were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, Allentown campus, for hyperbaric treatment, which pumps oxygen under pressure to victims’ bloodstream. They were released later in the day.
The couple’s dog and two kittens also recovered.
The hospital’s hyperbaric medicine program is the only one available 24 hours a day in the region.
An extended family of seven from Hazleton also arrived there Wednesday with carbon monoxide poisoning, hospital spokesman Steve Andrews said. They were expected to be released by the end of the day.
White and Mosses returned home to find that the landlord had cleaned the chimney and installed carbon monoxide detectors.
”They’re already being used,” White said of the detectors.
Scheirer said the home’s chimney hadn’t been cleaned in at least two years, trapping fumes from the gas furnace in the house.
Allentown Assistant Fire Chief Daniel M. Sell said furnaces and chimneys should be serviced every year, and carbon monoxide detectors are recommended for basements and bedrooms.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, including gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil and wood.
”It can kill you,” Sell said. ”It almost killed these people.”
During cold weather, the department handles an average of six calls a week for heating problems and/or carbon monoxide, officials said.
In April, 14 people were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected in row homes in the 900 block of W. Allen Street.