DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Five people were transported to the hospital after Durham firefighters detected a high reading of carbon monoxide early Thursday morning.
The firefighters responded to an apartment at the 1200 block of Miami Boulevard around 3:30 a.m. Thursday. Kenneth Johnson, who lives on the left-hand side of the apartment, called after his carbon monoxide alarms went off.
He says two alarms in his home were beeping. Initially, he thought they were malfunctioning and even took them outside to try to get them to stop. When he brought them back inside, he realized they were alerting him to an actual threat.
“It was kind of hard for me to breathe, not really light-headed per se, coughing, felt a little dizzy,” he said. “And, I am very very thankful and grateful that I was awake when everything was going down.”
Officials detected carbon monoxide readings of greater than 600 parts per million, when a reading of less than 10 is normal.
One person in the dwelling was unresponsive and had to be moved by firefighters. The four people living in one part of the duplex had no electricity and used a generator.
Chris Iannuzzi, deputy chief with the Durham Fire Department, said the source of the problem was a generator running in the basement. Firefighters warned that generators should never be used in a dwelling.
“It was in a confined space, in the basement of the house. A generator should never be inside of a house,” Iannuzzi said.
Emergency responders credited Johnson with helping to avert what could have been a deadly tragedy.
That’s what they told me. Besides saving your own life, you saved the people’s lives next door,” he said. “Believe me when I say it’s a day I’ll never forget.”
Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless but it can cause headaches, dizziness and vomiting.
Neighbor John Weaver said his neighborhood is “predominantly quiet,” but that people know to take carbon monoxide seriously.
“It’s the silent killer,” he said.