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Milwaukee apartment building evacuated due to CO leak

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- An overnight carbon monoxide leak sickens people at a Milwaukee apartment building, and forces them out into the cold. The Milwaukee Fire Department said several people were treated for illness caused by exposure to carbon monoxide.

The call came about the complex on 13th and Locust around 5 am on Wednesday. Residents in one building woke up to their carbon monoxide alarms going on. Fire fighters soon arrived on the scene, and evacuated the building. Fire fighters say there were dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide present -- they said the levels read at 95 parts per million, which is three times what a lower threshold for the time to “get out” is.

Eight families were displaced for much of Wednesday morning while crews worked to make the building safe.

“The next thing we know the fire department is knocking on our door telling us that we have to leave the building,” said Derenda Turner of her experience, “My fiancé was complaining of a headache. And I thought it was a normal headache and he was saying he was dizzy but I never thought it was something like that until the fire department informed us.”

Residents in adjoining buildings were allowed to stay, but without heat or hot water until around 1 in the afternoon. The property manager did pass out space heaters to some residents.

The Red Cross also responded to the scene, first getting people into buses and out of the cold, and then transporting them to Bethany Lutheran Church for food and shelter.

“Red Cross works pretty diligently having partners in the community like this church that we can set up basically at a moment’s notice so we work within our community on a daily basis to set up these partnerships and when disasters happen we give them a call and they open their doors,” said Sara Bruesewitz, a spokesperson for the Red Cross.

“If it wasn't for Red Cross and shelters and things some of us wouldn't have places to go. So it's a blessing,” said Turner.

While waiting to get back into her apartment, Turner said she realized that without that carbon monoxide detector in her apartment, things could have ended up a lot worse.

“This is a situation that if it wasn't for them, no telling what me and whoever else was in the building would be. We probably wouldn't be here right now,” said Turner.

“It’s kind of a scary disaster. You don’t smell it there’s no color or anything so it’s great to not only check your furnace but also your smoke detectors and make sure it has the carbon monoxide detector as well,” said Bruesewitz.

The fire department says several people were treated for sickness from the carbon monoxide exposure.

The property manager says the problem was fixed by 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, the building was deemed safe, and the residents were allowed back in at that time and had heat. He says the issue was a broken boiler which is now replaced.

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