FORD COUNTY— Five family members continue to fight for their lives after being sickened by carbon monoxide in a house in southwest Kansas.
Just after 4 a.m. on Monday, fire crews, police and EMS responded to Block 100 16th Avenue in Dodge City to a report of people dead inside the house.
Once officers arrived, they were able to see two subjects through the sagging window just inside the entrance to the living room of the house.
Officers entered noticing that both subjects appeared to be breathing very slowly. When they opened the door, they immediately smelled the familiar scent of thick vehicle exhaust in the air.
As officers grabbed the two subjects, they saw a third. They led them both out into the front yard. They went back inside to get the third one and while they were inside they saw that the door between the house and the garage was open and saw another subject in a vehicle inside the closed garage.
Dodge City firefighters arrived at the scene as they were dating the third subject. Officers informed DCFD personnel who then entered with breathing apparatus.
They opened the garage door to allow the police to enter and retrieve the man from the vehicle.
Fire crews searched the remaining rooms and found a fifth subject in a bedroom and took him out of the house.
Ford County Fire and EMS arrived at the scene and loaded the five victims into ambulances and took them to Western Plains Medical Center. They were flown to several locations from there.
All five subjects were still alive at the time of removal from home but the prognosis at this point is not good.
DCPD detectives are investigating the case. At present, this is a tragic accident caused by a subject driving the vehicle inside the closed garage. The vapors filled the residence through the open interior door and made the others sick to the point of passing unconscious before even realizing what was happening and why.
One subject was on the phone with his mother in Guatemala when he passed out. Her mother tried for over two hours to get help from friends in Dodge City before reaching the friend who originally found them and called the police.
At this point we understand that the victims are adult males, four of them are brothers, the fifth is an adult son of one of them.
The Dodge City Fire Department has reminded the public that a moving vehicle inside a garage can and will produce large amounts of carbon monoxide that will enter the home.
They came up with ways to prevent this from happening by preventing certain activities from helping prevent carbon monoxide build-up.
Do not drive your car in an enclosed space, even if it is a garage with the garage door open. Get out of the car or turn off the car.
Do not use a charcoal or gas grill inside your home or inside a tent. Use it outdoors or under a shelter with plenty of room for cross ventilation such as natural wind and fresh air.
Have your heaters professionally checked regularly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
An undersized exhaust vent in a water heater or furnace can interfere with the removal of carbon monoxide, causing backflow into your home. If you are replacing a furnace or gas appliance, make sure that the exhaust system meets the standards of the code in force.
Just as there are smoke detectors, there are also carbon monoxide detectors. They look like smoke detectors. You may be able to purchase a combined smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Some can plug into the electrical outlet, while others can run on batteries only. It is recommended that you have some of both in your home. Have one set up near your sleeping area. Have more installed on each level of your home.
Dodge City Fire Department and Development Services will install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors free of charge.
What to do if you think you may be exposed to carbon monoxide:
You and everyone in your house must leave immediately. Go outside and breathe in some fresh air. Call 911 and ask for the fire department. If someone has nausea, dizziness, unusual drowsiness, or is unconscious, tell them you need an ambulance as well.
Stay outside until the fire brigade arrives. Do not go back inside the house whether or not you are starting to feel better.