OGUNQUIT, Maine – A faulty furnace and a lack of carbon monoxide detectors sent seven people to area hospitals Sunday after a carbon monoxide incident at the InnSeason Resort The Falls at Ogunquit, according to Fire Chief Mark O’Brien.
O’Brien said the department received a call from the resort around noon Sunday, after guests in one building reported flu-like symptoms, including headaches, nausea, dizziness and vomiting.
“Upon arrival, we used a gas monitor in the building and found carbon monoxide levels over 300 parts per million,” he said, adding that anything over 35 ppm is high.
Once they realized carbon monoxide was to blame, rescue personnel sprang into action.
“We evacuated the entire building,” O’Brien said.
Ogunquit called in ambulances, including two of their own, two each from Wells and York, and one each from Kennebunk, Sanford and South Berwick.
“Twenty-one patients were evaluated on the scene,“ he said, with 14 treated and released.
Seven patients were transported to local hospitals, O’Brien said.
York Hospital spokeswoman Dawn Fernald said that all six people taken to that hospital were in stable condition Sunday afternoon.
“They were evaluated at the scene by EMS personnel in Ogunquit,” she said.
O’Brien said the seventh patient was taken to Southern Maine Health Center in Biddeford.
He said a faulty furnace was to blame, with the furnace releasing carbon monoxide into the basement, where it was then carried by vents throughout the building.
O’Brien said at least one guest claimed to have passed out, and others said symptoms started on Saturday night.
“We believe it was going on more than just today,” he said.
O’Brien said there were no carbon monoxide detectors in the basement or any of the rooms, though they are required by law.
“It is a violation,” he said. “The state fire marshal’s office is involved, and looking into it.”
O’Brien said any fines would come from that office.
He said for now the building is shut down for 24-48 hours, and guests were re-located to other buildings on the property.
The person who answered the phone at the resort Sunday said they would have no comment at this time.
O’Brien said Sunday’s incident should be a reminder to everyone to have carbon monoxide detectors.
“All residences should have carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping areas,” he said. “People die daily from this. It’s an odorless gas.”
O’Brien said the last time the department had an incident like this was about five years ago, when a local resident unplugged the detector, thinking the alarm was going off in error.
“We took five to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning,” he recalled.
All five survived.