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Crown shores condo building evacuated after carbon monoxide incident

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 11:03 am

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The Crown Shores condo at 700 Willowbrook Rd. NW was evacuated on June 5 after the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) determined CO levels in the building were “dangerously elevated.”

Between 80 and 100 people and various pets were removed from the building.

The incident occurred at about 5:30 p.m. and sent one maintenance worker who had been working at the condo to the hospital in stable, non-life threatening condition after he was stricken with CO exposure symptoms that include headache and nausea.

A CO alarm in one residence at the condo went off and the resident contacted the AFD, which responded to the call. Once on scene, crews immediately began using monitoring equipment to determine the air quality within the building.

Initial CO readings throughout all floors of the four-storey building were dangerously high, at 110 ppm (parts per million), according to AFD. Firefighters immediately activated the building’s alarm system to support an evacuation.

“There is always a level of carbon monoxide in the air,” said AFD Deputy Chief Garth Rabel.

“Low levels are considered to be around 50 ppm, and high or dangerous levels are above 100 ppm, that’s where you can start to see symptoms from exposure and certain individuals like seniors or people with respiratory difficulties can be vulnerable.”

The high levels of CO in the building were the result of a maintenance crew hired to clean the underground parkade at the building. They had been using portable generators for power washers, and vehicles had been left idling, resulting in exhaust entering the building’s HVAC system. CO readings in the parkade exceeded 180 ppm.

Residents at the Crown Shores condo were all able to get out of the building safely and remained outside for around 90 minutes while the building was ventilated.

“Thankfully it was a pretty nice night out so people weren’t getting too cold,” said Rabel.

“We used both natural and forced ventilation with our fans to clear all the CO from the building.”

The AFD continued to monitor the air quality of the building with the support of ATCO Gas emergency crew.

Once the building was deemed safe, residents were allowed to return to their homes.

The AFD is reminding residents to take time to learn about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

“It’s a silent killer, you can’t see, smell or taste the gas,” said Rabel.

“You should have a CO alarm on every floor where people sleep, within close proximity to bedrooms.”

Rabel says it’s also important to maintain and clean anything in your home that uses gas, such as hot water tanks, furnaces, ranges and fireplaces, to ensure safe CO levels.


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