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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 05/30/2010

3 dead from apparent CO poisoning

By Washington Post Editors

Three people were found dead inside a home in Hyattsville Sunday morning, and investigators believe initially they might have been killed by carbon monoxide produced by a gasoline-powered generator that was running inside their home.

At about 9:15 a.m. Sunday, firefighters and paramedics were called to a home in the 5600 block of 38th Avenue by a teenage female who reported feeling sick and having trouble breathing. When they arrived, they found three other people — two men and a woman who appeared to be in their 20s — dead inside the home, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.

Firefighters searched the home and found a gas-powered generator running in the basement, Brady said. They shut it down but believe it may have produced toxic levels of carbon monoxide that killed the three people and sickened the teenager, he said.

The teenager was transported to a hospital where she is receiving specialized treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, Brady said.

It is not immediately clear why those in the home were running a gas generator. Brady said county police detectives were on the scene assisting with the investigation. At least initially, he said the deaths appeared to be accidental.

Brady said residents should be cautious when operating gas and charcoal powered appliances, and using them inside an enclosed space is typically not safe. Burning fuel generates high levels of CO that can be lethal, he said.

“CO is what we term the silent killer because it’s a byproduct of burning fuel that you can’t see, you can’t smell, you can’t taste,” Brady said. “Having a gasoline powered generator in your home is certainly high on the list of things not to do.”

Residents can purchase CO detectors that will emit an alarm when high levels of the gas are present, Brady said.

--Matt Zapotosky

By Washington Post Editors  | May 30, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
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I'm surprised the firefighters didn't have a CO detector on the scene.

Posted by: pundito | May 30, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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