6 hospitalized, more sick by carbon monoxide leak at Evanston church

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

Charley Hosch said he began to experience a “little dizziness” during the 11 a.m. service at the 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 finally came back. It took 5-10 minutes and I think his breathing had stopped.

Ambulances responded to a call from an unresponsive toddler. According to authorities, firefighters immediately detected a carbon monoxide leak.

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

According to firefighters, 11 people needed medical attention.

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

Paramedics treated five patients on site. First responders also transported six patients to area hospitals.

The firefighters believe they know the origin of the leak.

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

Firefighters used the incident to remind residents to have their furnaces checked and serviced, adding that all households should have a working carbon monoxide detector.

Jerry B. Hatch