Carbon Monoxide Scare At Tulsa Sam's Club

Monday, February 23rd 2009, 12:03 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Seven people were taken to the hospital after a carbon monoxide leak at a Tulsa Sam's Club store on Monday.

The store reopened in the afternoon after the source of the leak was identified and shut down.  When the fire department arrived on Monday morning, the carbon monoxide level was four times as much as what would normally cause people to notice it.

Robert Bellers was standing at the checkout line in the store near 44th and Sheridan when he realized something was happening.

"All of a sudden a fireman came in the door and said everybody in this building has to go out, we have a problem," said Robert Bellers.

Soon, a dozen fire trucks and ambulances were outside the door.  The customers and employees evacuated.

"And they didn't panic.  Everyone was orderly getting out," said one woman.

No one complained of illness right away, but within the hour, seven people became ill.  EMSA responded and took each of them to the hospital, but no one had serious problems.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, but some people said there was an unusual smell in the store.

"There was an odor, a little bit, I smelled it," said a woman.

The fire department found two problems:  a chemical odor they traced to a cleaner used on the chicken rotisserie and a carbon monoxide leak from a vent pipe on a rooftop heater.

"The furnace unit on the roof of the building is being checked by ONG and then maintenance will check and that's where we isolated the main source of the monoxide was coming from," said Tulsa Fire Captain Michael Baker.

While the fire department aired out the building, the employees remained outside.  A few customers waited, too.  Customer Robert Bellers had already checked out when he had to leave.

"It's probably still on the cart at the counter and it's checked out, so I'm not leaving it," said Robert Bellers.

While the store has reopened, additional repairs are still being made.

Consumer Product Safety Commission FAQ on carbon monoxide poisoning.