SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) — Eighteen people are being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after spending time inside a house in Salisbury on Tuesday, according to emergency officials, and the homeowner says he doesn’t know how a generator ended up inside his home.
The cases were brought to the attention of officials at around 4:45 pm on Tuesday afternoon when four people came to the Emergency Department at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center complaining of dizziness and other symptoms similar to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Those patients were evaluated and the Salisbury Fire Department was called to check the home for a carbon monoxide leak.
Firefighters went to the home at 204 Lloyd Street and found high levels of carbon monoxide. They also discovered that a portable generator was running inside of the house. The home had no electricity, officials say, and the generator was providing power and heat.
Firefighters shut down the generator and aired out the house, clearing the scene at approximately 6:30 pm.
Between 6:30 and 8 p.m., eleven more people showed up at Novant Health Rowan Medical with the same symptoms, and all said they had been inside the same residence for some period of time on Tuesday.
A sixteenth person, said to be the homeowner, was also being evaluated late Tuesday night inside the residence.
Emergency officials say two more people came to the hospital for treatment early on Wednesday morning.
Seven of the fifteen people who were sick have been taken by helicopter to Duke Medical Center to receive treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, the remaining patients are being treated at Novant Health Rowan.
Homeowner J.O. Wilks, who was treated overnight at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, said that he had been using the generator for about two weeks after his power was cut off.
Wilks said that when he ran the generator it was sitting on the driveway outside of the house, but when firefighters arrived they found the generator inside the basement.
Wilks said that he didn’t know who moved the generator, only that when he came home from work on Tuesday night, he got sick. He also said he didn’t know why so many people were inside his home throughout the day on Tuesday.