46 people hospitalized after carbon monoxide exposure at Canadian hotel

Julia Thompson

Forty-six people were hospitalized and the hotel they were in was evacuated after an apparent carbon-monoxide poisoning incident Tuesday in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, according to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Manitoba Hydro, the gas utility. 

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane said 15 people were transported to area hospitals in critical condition with five more in unstable condition; 26 others were hospitalized but considered stable.

Fifty-two people and a dog were in the Super 8 by Wyndham Winnipeg West hotel Tuesday morning when an automatic alarm indicating high levels of carbon monoxide went off. Winnipeg Animal Services provided care for the dog, according to a fire service new release

"That's an automatic alarm that indicated there was potentially carbon monoxide in the boiler room," Lane told The Associated Press.

Manitoba Hydro, which provides electricity and gas service to communities throughout the Canadian province, including Winnipeg, shut off gas to the building and is working to determine the cause of the elevated carbon monoxide levels, according to the fire service.

Manitoba Hydro confirmed on Twitter that the utility worked with the fire service to shut off gas to the hotel and begin the ventilation process. 

"Today’s incident at a Winnipeg hotel was not a 'gas leak'. It was a carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning," the utility tweeted. "Natural gas has a rotten egg smell (mercaptan) added to it so that it can be detected — carbon monoxide is odorless, which is why you need a CO alarm in your home and business."

Manitoba Hydro went on to explain that carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion and ventilation of appliances such as gas stoves, heating boilers, furnaces, propane barbecues, gas-powered water heaters and clothes dryers.

The fire service release indicated crews detected carbon monoxide throughout the hotel with levels up to 385 parts per million. Normal levels are 0-2 parts per million, according to a bulletin from the Fire Commissioner's Office of Manitoba. The bulletin notes that exposure between 200 and 400 parts per million can lead to slight headaches, fatigue, dizziness and nausea after two to three hours. 

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts offered an apology to those affected and reassurance that the "safety of our guests and hotel teams is extremely important."

"We sincerely apologize to the guests who were affected by this morning’s incident," the company said in a statement to USA TODAY Tuesday. "We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of today’s emergency responders. Although this hotel is individually owned and operated under a franchise agreement, we have been in touch with its owner and understand that the hotel was cleared to reopen by the city earlier today."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hotel carbon monoxide evacuation: 46 hospitalized in Canada