Faulty Gas Range May Have Caused CO Poisoning
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We’re learning more about the East Baltimore family that fell victim to carbon monoxide, the silent killer. Other building residents say there were no carbon monoxide detectors inside.
Weijia Jiang tells us what caused the deaths of two people and serious injuries to three more.
Balloons hang in front of the Guilford Avenue apartment where Mikeia Lucas, 30, and Vonita Gibbs, 50, were found Tuesday morning, their bodies lifeless. Emergency responders rushed three other family members, including a 5-year-old child, to Shock Trauma after recording lethal levels of carbon monoxide in their home.
Fire investigators now say a faulty gas range is the source.
“This should have never had happened if they had been in compliance with the law,” said neighbor Julius Spell.
Spell lives in the apartment right below the family. After the incident, BGE inspectors found carbon monoxide levels at his stove so high, he can’t use it until it’s repaired. Spell says the are no carbon monoxide detectors in the entire building, which is owned by Greater Baltimore AHC. He fiercely believes the tragedy could have been prevented.
“Of course it could have. You’re talking about a device that only costs about $20 to be installed,” Spell said.
A spokesperson for GBAHC says crews perform routine maintenance checks frequently, but she could not say whether there were working carbon monoxide detectors inside the apartment.
“No, I can’t guarantee. As I said, they are in the process as we speak, going from apartment to apartment, making sure there is one in place,” said GBAHC Spokesperson Susan Anthony.
A law passed in March requires carbon monoxide detectors. Fire authorities say they are especially critical during the winter months, when people turn on gas appliances to stay warm.
“The gas dryer, the gas range, the furnace and the water heater. Over a period of time, sometimes the connections malfunction, cause leaks,” said Baltimore City Fire Department Chief Kevin Cartwright.
Leaks that can kill and crush those left behind.
“Oh, this is bad, real bad. They was a nice family,” Spell said.
Baltimore Housing Authority records show no pending code violations on the house.
Investigators have not confirmed how all the victims are related.