LE MARS, Iowa | A malfunctioning furnace sent two Le Mars individuals to the hospital and a dog to the vet with carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dave Schipper, fire chief with Le Mars Fire Rescue, said the call came from Armel Acres, a trailer court on the west side of Le Mars, before 9 a.m. Saturday.
"It actually started out as a medical call, ambulance was dispatched for a person having trouble breathing," Schipper said. Emergency responders "observed some strange behavior from two males who were living there," and the fire department was called in.
When the fire department arrived, one individual was outside, while another was still inside the trailer, along with a dog. The human and dog were both brought outside.
Both people were taken to the Floyd Valley Hospital, while the dog was taken to a veterinarian.
In the trailer, firefighters measured carbon monoxide levels as high as 307 parts per million (ppm).
"That's huge," Schipper said. "It's going to make you lethargic, it's going to make you sick."
At 400 ppm, Schipper said, health and life are in immediate danger. OSHA, he added, allows daily exposure no higher than 35 ppm.
The fire department then ventilated the structure and shut off the gas. Crews were on scene for about an hour.
Schipper said the exact problem with the furnace could have been a number of things.
"It can be a cracked heat exchanger, it can be a plugged vent," he said. "People really need to have those things checked by a heating and cooling professional."
Schipper could not comment on the individuals' or the dog's condition, saying only the fire department hoped they would recover.
He also warned about the dangers of carbon monoxide in the winter.
"Everyone, make sure they have a working carbon monoxide alarm in their home," Schipper said. "It wouldn't have been too long and their outcome would have been a little different."