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Three homes evacuated after CO detectors sound

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WHITEFISH BAY (WITI) --  North Shore Fire/Rescue officials are looking into the cause of a carbon monoxide leak in Whitefish Bay after several homes had to be evacuated Wednesday night for sounding CO detectors.

Just after 11 p.m., crews found elevated levels of carbon monoxide inside a townhouse near Anita Ave. and Shoreland Ave. The residence was evacuated as crews worked to investigate and isolate the cause.

About twenty minutes after, a subsequent caller reported the activation of a CO detector at a townhouse across the street.

"The carbon monoxide detector in our basement went off and then our alarm upstairs went off.  That's when I realized something is wrong," said Paijean Hsieh.

Hsieh's main concern was the health of her 18-month-old daughter and baby on the way.

"She was sleeping upstairs and that's where the second alarm went off, so we were really nervous," she said.

Fire crews determined that elevated CO levels were also present in the Shoreland Avenue residence and an adjacent residence. Those homes were also evacuated while crews worked to determine the source of the CO.

"The levels were up to up to 160 parts per million.  Normally, you should have none to three," said North Shore Fire Chief Robert Whitaker.

Crews on both scenes worked to isolate any potential causes and then ventilate both structures. Subsequent readings at both locations returned no CO readings. Crews were able to render all of the affected homes safe, but the source of carbon monoxide is still unclear.

"We Energies helped us look into what the cause may have been, but they weren't able to find a cause either," said Whitaker.

Fortunately, there were no reports of any CO related illness and no injuries to any of the residents or any of the crews operating at the scene.

North Shore Fire/Rescue officials say this should serve as a reminder of the importance of having working carbon monoxide detectors located on all levels of every home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can be lethal. These residents were alerted to the danger in their home thanks to this type of detection.

"So if you don't have a detector, you likely won't know that somethings wrong until you start feeling symptoms," said Whitaker.

"We wouldn't know, no idea what would've happened today if we didn't have one," said Hsieh.

According to Wisconsin state law, one- and two-family homes are required to have carbon monoxide detectors.

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