Carbon monoxide leak sends ten people to the hospital

By Tara Morgan - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A gas leak forced evacuations at the Suntrust building on Semmes Avenue in downtown Richmond. Ten people have been sent to the hospital. Dozens of other sought help at the scene.

Out of the 10 transported to area hospitals, three have serious breathing issues. A total of 41 people were checked out by emergency crews. Richmond fire has cleared out of here after declaring the building safe.

What started as a power outage turned into a potentially deadly situation for hundreds of employees at the Suntrust building on Semmes Avenue. Richmond fire was initially called to the building at 12:50 p.m. when an elevator got stuck with people inside.

Because of the power outage, the emergency generator had kicked in. Two hours later, people started having trouble breathing. Authorities say carbon monoxide seeped into the ventilation system, mainly affecting the sixth floor, but emergency crews evacuated the entire building. Fire fighters then went floor to floor making sure the building was safe for Suntrust to return to business.

"The fire department has been in and did some monitoring of the air quality in the building here and the building has been rendered safe," said Richmond Fire Department Lt. Shawn Jones.

Richmond fire officials don't know if Suntrust has carbon monoxide alarms or is required to. They plan to look into that as they continue their investigation.

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