Family of four sickened by carbon monoxide

OGUNQUIT – Four members of a family were hospitalized this morning after they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ogunquit Fire Chief Ed Smith said the problem was caused by squirrels nesting in the vent for a gas furnace, causing the carbon monoxide to back up in the home, which is at Young's Crossing off Route 1. Smith said a carbon monoxide detector apparently sounded on Thursday, but somone tripped the circuit breaker to an outlet that was powering the detector in order ot turn it off.

One family member woke up this morning around 3 a.m. with a bad headache and another member of the family didn't feel well, Smith said, but no one called the fire department until one person fainted around 8 a.m.

The four, including one elderly person, were taken to York Hospital where they are being treated. Smith said he hasn't heard back on their conditions, but he expects them to recover.

Carbon monoxide levels were about 700 to 900 parts per million, which are "the highest we've ever seen – right off the scale," Smith said. Normal carbon monoxide levels are below 50 parts per million, he saiid.

"It was really bad and thank God someone fainted, because another night (of the gas building up in the house), we woudl have had some deaths for sure," he said.

When carbon monoxide or fire detectors sound, Smith said, "they go off for a reason."