by LORNA COLQUHOUN, Union Leader Correspondent

LINCOLN — Police and firefighters kicked in the doors of rooms of River Green Hotel early yesterday after an apparent carbon monoxide leak sent 45 guests to area hospitals.

As of last night, only one person remained hospitalized, according to a spokesman for Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth. Emergency calls began coming in just after midnight Sunday, Lincoln Police Chief Ted Smith said. “At about 12:30, we received a call from an individual who said he was having a heart attack — he was having chest pains,” Smith said.

By the time medical teams responded a few minutes later, other calls were received, including one reporting that two children were “deathly ill,” Smith said. People began spilling out of their rooms after an alarm was sounded, which one guest, who did not want to be named, reported to be very loud.

At the time, heavy rain was falling; scores of guests gathered under the hotel’s portico. Fresh off an emergency drill last Wednesday, police, firefighters and medics went into an “emergency command position,” Smith said. Ambulances were called from neighboring towns and as far away as Littleton.

Of those who had to go to the hospital, 25 went to Littleton Regional Hospital;d 20 were taken to Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth. In addition, Smith said police commandeered a van to also take people to the hospital. The building was evacuated and emergency teams used a master key to gain entry into rooms to make sure everyone was getting out of the hotel, which has several levels. “Our major concern was that people may have been passed out in the building,” Smith said. “We went and kicked down doors that were bolted in case people thought this was a false alarm. We went through the building twice.”

This is the second time in a little over a year that a Lincoln hotel has experienced a carbon monoxide situation. In August 2003, two dozen guests at the Indian Head Resort were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after there was a problem with the venting of its forced hot water, oil furnace.

An investigator from the state Fire Marshal’s office was at River Green Hotel yesterday morning, but could not be reached for comment, nor could Lincoln fire officials be reached. Smith said the problem may have stemmed from a furnace problem.