Faulty boiler forces late-night evacuation of Brattleboro apartment building

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BRATTLEBORO — At just past midnight on Wednesday, the Brattleboro Fire Department responded to an apartment building at 12 Pleasant St. for a carbon monoxide alarm activation.

According to a press release from the Brattleboro Fire Department, upon arrival, firefighters were met outside by a tenant who reported the carbon monoxide detector in the basement was going off. Firefighters entered the basement to find the detector, and gas meters the firefighters were carrying registered elevated levels carbon monoxide. There was also a light haze in the basement, this being caused by a malfunctioning boiler.

The boiler was shut down and firefighters then went to each of the six apartments in the building to check carbon monoxide levels and found elevated readings throughout the building. All 16 tenants were evacuated to the outside and tested for carbon monoxide levels in their blood stream. As a result, it was found that six of the tenants, including one infant, had high levels in their systems.

Five tenants were transported to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital by three Rescue Inc. ambulances and a sixth tenant went to the hospital by private vehicle.

The building was ventilated by the fire department using fans and once all meter readings returned to zero all tenants were allowed to reoccupy their apartments.

According to the press release, there were reports that alarms in this building went off earlier in the afternoon and either the detectors were disconnected or ignored.

"This incident could have had a very tragic ending if it was not for a functioning CO detector in the basement," stated the press release. "The Brattleboro Fire Department urges all residents to consider any alarm to be an emergency until it is deemed to be safe by trained professionals. We also want to remind all citizens that you should have properly installed and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of your home, preferably outside of sleeping areas, they save lives, as shown in this incident."

For more information on carbon monoxide and the installation of detectors, contact the Brattleboro Fire Department at 802-254-4831.

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