State investigating dangerous carbon monoxide levels in dozens of Southern Indiana homes

State investigating dangerous carbon monoxide levels in dozens of Southern Indiana homes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – It was a silent Christmas nightmare in Clarksville and New Albany.

More than 100 calls were made to Clarksville and New Albany Fire reporting carbon monoxide poisoning. The cause has not yet been determined.

Clarksville Fire Department issued an alert on Saturday to local residents regarding a dangerous carbon monoxide issue affecting southern Indiana. Clarksville Fire said they have responded to at least four more carbon monoxide calls since Tuesday.

Around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, firefighters responded to a call of two south Clarksville residents experiencing chest pains, according to Clarksville officials.

“We had an influx of calls,” Chief Brandon Skaggs said. “We had a few. Almost two dozen phone calls in a short period of time. That’s how we knew something was up. We just didn’t know what and why.”

Skaggs said all the calls were concentrated in the eastern part of the city.

Officials in New Albany and Clarksville said they are working with emergency crews in Clarksville and the provider for the area, CenterPoint Energy, to determine the cause of the problem.

CenterPoint Energy released the following statement Tuesday regarding the recent carbon monoxide issues in southern Indiana:

“At this time, there are no indications of problems with CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas system and it continues to operate safely. Since the calls started coming in on Christmas morning, we have been working with the Clarksville and New Albany fire departments to respond to the increase in carbon monoxide calls in the area, including local management from CenterPoint Energy Operations on the ground to supported Emergency Responders in Clarksville and New Albany.

We always take emergency calls very seriously and have responded to and investigated possible causes of carbon monoxide. We found that most of the calls CenterPoint Energy responded to were due to improper ventilation of the appliance. In addition, extreme weather including freezing temperatures, strong winds and snow/ice accumulation were also factors that contributed to further problems with customers’ equipment as their equipment was stressed during the event.

As is industry practice, CenterPoint Energy has used a propane-air blend to supplement natural gas to assist in times of high system demand. The propane-air peak shaving plant, which serves part of the area, has been in service since the 1970s and is regularly monitored and maintained to industry standards. It has been used during past extreme weather events, including last year during a similar cold weather event, to help provide safe and reliable natural gas service to customers in the Clarksville and New Albany areas.

We want to echo our previous reminder to use caution when using fuel-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide can result from incomplete combustion and proper ventilation is essential to ensure safe use. We will continue to cooperate with local agencies and evaluate any issues that may arise. Our thoughts are with those families affected during the holidays,” wrote Natalie Hedde, Director of Government Affairs for CenterPoint Energy.

Officials said the issue is so serious that an emergency command center has been set up at the Clarksville Fire Department headquarters. At least four people were taken to hospital.

The Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission is investigating.

The Clarksville Fire Department is urging everyone to install carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are working properly.

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