EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Five children and a mother remain in the hospital following exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide.
The East Cleveland Fire Department says two mothers and 13 children were taken from an East Cleveland home Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. and transported to University Hospital, Hillcrest Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic. Five children were flown to a special medical facility in Pittsburgh to be treated in hyperbaric chambers.
Victims were said to be lethargic, but not unconscious.
"We damn near about to die. The doctors told us that if we wouldn't have gotten out the house at the time we did, this time right now, we would not be here," said Ronald Jackson, one of the home's residents.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the carbon monoxide leak, but a furnace or hot water tank are possibilities.
The property owner, Marco Waller, tells Cleveland 19 he blames the tenants because the family living there was using a stove for heat.
"They put a bad stove in there. I told them not to grab that stove and they had the stove running for six or seven days," Waller said Wednesday.
The family denied using a stove for heat. One of the mothers, Latasha Blockard, said there was no heat in the home and the family was forced to stay in two rooms with heaters.
"They lying. They burned the stove for six days," Waller responded.
Waller says he provided electric heaters and hired a company to fix the furnace, although that took about a week.
"The tenant kept trying to fix himself, and he burnt up the gas valve, and he had it hot wired some kind of way. I told him not to do that," said Waller.
A Dominion Gas official said a furnace at the Sixth Avenue residence was red tagged on Jan. 29, 2016, which means it was not supposed to be used.
Jackson and his cousin, Tyron Parks, were both treated and released for CO poisoning. They said after a maintenance man made repairs Tuesday night, everyone who lived there became sick.
Jackson noticed his siblings and cousins started showing signs that something was wrong.
"They was just sleeping. They was waking up. Some of them was crying," Jackson explained.
"Some of them was woozy, in pain, just walking around dizzy," Parks chimed in.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. CO is called the silent killer. According to the Centers for Disease Control, carbon monoxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?
The most common symptoms are headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. CO symptoms are often described as "flu-like."
What are the signs to look for?
Condensation or sweat coming down your walls, your windows are some signs.
Who is at risk from CO poisoning?
Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO.
How can I prevent CO poisoning in my home?
Have your heating system serviced annually.
Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home.
Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
Who do you call when detector goes off?
Fire department & get out of house
Do furnace repair companies have to be licensed?
Must hold a state license to do electrical, HVAC, refrigeration, plumbing or hydronics work in Ohio.
How many detectors should you have?
Ideally one on each floor so you can hear the alarm.
What questions do you have? Declare your curiosity using #CLEcurious on social media.
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