Gulfport, MS – By Robin Fitzgerald and Michael Newsom

Carbon monoxide from a generator brought indoors is to blame for two men’s deaths and a third man’s critical condition, authorities said Thursday.

Two of the men were dead when police, fire and emergency medical personnel responded to a 2:45 p.m. call for help from Pinewood Apartments at 3333 12th Ave., said Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove. The men, both 52, are from the St. Petersburg, Fla., area. They were at the apartment complex repairing damage from Hurricane Katrina.

“They had a generator hooked up in the downstairs of Apartment 5 and were using it for electrical power,” Hargrove said.

Their names were withheld pending notification of relatives.

Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said the three were working without a city permit at the eight-unit townhouse complex north of Pass Road near 33rd Street.

Sullivan said he feared that the massive rebuilding efforts would yield injuries and deaths.

“This has been one of our fears,” Sullivan said. “When you are in a situation like we are, there is so much work that needs to be done, and so many people that aren’t skilled are working with the equipment.”

He said many citizens are storing their generators inside to prevent theft.

Sullivan said the workers were using the generator to cook and to run lights. Sullivan said people should not use any type of power tool inside that takes gasoline and has a muffler because they produce carbon monoxide.