6 hospitalized, others sickened by carbon monoxide leak at Evanston church


EVANSTON, Ill. – Nearly a dozen members of the Mount Pisgah Church in Evanston fell sickened during Sunday service due to a carbon monoxide leak in the building.

Charley Hosch said he started to experience a ‘little dizziness’ during the 11 a.m. service at Mount Pisgah Ministry on Church Street in Evanston.

“About five minutes later, a little girl was falling out. I think she was choking on something. I’m not sure,” Hosch said. “So we had to resuscitate her, me and this pastor, so we were just trying to get her back and she eventually came back to. It took 5-10 minutes and I think her breathing had stopped.”

Ambulances responded to the call for an unresponsive toddler. Officials say fire crews immediately detected a carbon monoxide leak.

“There were high levels over 500 parts per million,” Evanston Fire Battalion Chief Martin Rafacz said. “It’s a very high reading. Over 100 is immediately dangerous to life. They immediately evacuated the building, and we started having other patients and other people reporting symptoms CO-related.”

According to fire officials, 11 people needed medical attention.

“The pastor was trying to do something with the thermostat back there, and he almost passed out,” Hosch said.

Paramedics treated five patients at the scene. First responders also transported six patients to area hospitals.

The fire departments believe they know the source of the leak.

“It sounds like it’s possibly from the heat exchanger and a clogged flu is potentially what it is but we’re going to investigate that further,” Rafacz said.

Fire department officials used this incident to remind locals to have their heating unit checked and serviced, adding that all households should have a working carbon monoxide detector.

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