Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Sends Church Members to the Hospital
PROVO, Utah – Dozens of people were evacuated from church and around 13 people went to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning after what was likely a gas leak.
It happened just after 11 a.m. Sunday at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse on 650 Stadium Ave. in Provo.
Nona Nibley was one of the church members evacuated. She said many girls in a young women’s class started feeling sick. She said it was troubling to see them lying outside on the grass.
“They weren’t moving. They were just flat, prone, so it was pretty scary,” said Nibley. “No one was panicking so I figured they were keeping them calm and covering them up with blankets.”
When medics got there, they quickly realized that carbon monoxide was the cause.
“When they arrived, they had people that were feeling sick that were exiting the building and they realized when they went inside their gas detectors went off and told them there was quite a bit of carbon monoxide that had built up in the church,” said Jeanie Atherton, spokesperson for the Provo Fire Department. “Meaning there was a gas leak or a piece of equipment somewhere that was malfunctioning.”
Nibley says the young women’s room was closest to the furnace room and the furnace did not seem to be functioning Sunday morning.
“It was very cold in church. A lady went home and got some blankets for some of the older sisters,” Nibley said. “That’s what we used outside for the young women.”
An investigation will determine what went wrong exactly. Authorities are just glad it wasn’t worse.
“Any time you have a group of people that are starting to get sick at the same time, it’s a good thing to call the fire department to come out and see what’s going on,” said Atherton.
Atherton says the church is an older building and did not have carbon monoxide detectors.
“Carbon monoxide is a very scary thing,” she said. “It can cause you to get really sick really fast without you knowing because it’s odorless and you can’t detect it.”
Most of the victims were treated at the hospital in a hyperbaric chamber and were feeling better by Sunday night. Overall, Intermountain Healthcare officials said 59 people were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
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