Salt Lake City, UT – Fire crews responded to the area of The Gateway, 135 S. 500 West, on Monday when several people in apartments there reported their carbon monoxide alarms were going off.

Salt Lake City Fire Department Capt. Mark Bednarik said the first call came in at about 5:30 p.m., and as fire crews arrived and went from floor to floor, the CO detectors they always carry were going off, indicating that the deadly gas was virtually everywhere in the building.

While fire personnel knocked on the door of each apartment, evacuating the building, Hazmat was called to the scene. Ambulances were already on standby in case anyone had been overcome by the gas.

“The CO was all through the building,” Bednarik said. “It was measured at about 35 parts per million up to 70 parts per million. And when it’s around 70, it’s getting really dangerous.”

It was imperative to find the source of the CO as quickly as possible. Bednarik said the initial concern was that a furnace in the building might be malfunctioning.

“Then we found out someone was operating a gas-powered power washer, and the fumes were being pulled into the ventilation system,” he said.

Because the tenants had been evacuated in such cold weather, a UTA bus was requested to keep them warm, but the source of the CO was identified before the bus arrived, and crews quickly ventilated the building. All the tenants were back in their apartments by about 6:30 p.m.

In discussing this incident, Capt. Bednarik made the point that “there’s a reason carbon monoxide is called ‘the silent killer.’ It has no smell and no taste. You don’t even know it’s there.”

The symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, light-headedness, feeling nauseated and tired.

“Sometimes people dismiss it, thinking they have the flu,” Bednarik said. “That’s why it’s so important for every home to have a CO detector.”