Generator exhaust seen as cause of ‘ill effects’ at health center in Charlestown

Generator exhaust seen as cause of ‘ill effects’ at health center in Charlestown

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CHARLESTOWN — Exhaust fumes from an outdoor generator leaked into a section of the Narragansett Indian Health Center on Thursday, leaving several people with symptoms of carbon monoxide inhalation, officials said.

Charlestown-Richmond Fire Chief Don Rathbone said Friday that extensive testing determined the cause of the illness. Officials took six people to South County and Westerly hospitals with similar symptoms. The problem as traced to the generator, which was undergoing routine maintenance and testing. The test may have pulled the exhaust into a nearby air intake vent.

“The building was monitored for carbon monoxide, but none was present. Though tests were performed with no problems, we were not able to come up with another source,” Rathbone said. “There was a building mechanicals contractor on scene and he was going to continue to check the HVAC system with the building occupant.”

Andrew D. Kettle, chief of the Charlestown Ambulance-Rescue Service, said emergency personnel   responded to the center, at 51 Old Mill Road, at 10:45 a.m. with reports of several people suffering  “ill effects.”

Kettle said that with the assistance of the Hope Valley Ambulance Squad, medical responders transported six people as a precaution and treated three on scene who later refused transport. All of those affected by the condition were released later Thursday and were expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Charlestown firefighters, assisted by officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection and Hope Valley-Wyoming Fire Department’s hazardous materials team, tested the entire building before determining the likely cause based on a process of elimination when no unusual readings were returned. The health center was fully open for business later in the day.


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