By Shirin Rajaee

MODESTO (CBS13) — It was a close call for residents of one Modesto home after almost losing their lives due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

“It’s very apparent that if that process hadn’t taken place, it could’ve ended up in a very tragic situation,” said Fire Chief Tim Tietjen.

Modesto fire initially got the call around 4 a.m. Tuesday from a woman needing medical attention at a home off the 900 block of Tokay Avenue. She had apparently passed out and at first it wasn’t apparent it was carbon monoxide poisoning. That 23-year old remains in the hospital Tuesday night, but it was what happened after she was transported that led to the rescue of 4 others.

“It was completely scary, all I heard was Modesto police and fire saying we must evacuate premises immediately,” said Johnnie Hutson.

Hutson says around 5 a.m., he and 3 others inside the home were woken up by firefighters standing over them, demanding they get out.

“I felt sick to my stomach and had a bad headache,” he said.

“Did you think that something like this was happening? No, you can’t smell it,” said Hutson.

Just about 30 minutes prior- Hutson’s roommate’s 23-year-old daughter had passed out and was transported to the hospital. She has diabetes, and so the roommates initially thought it was related to that. But turns out, it was far from it.

“The staff recognized quickly they had a situation where someone was exposed to carbon monoxide knowing that they were transported from a home,” said Chief Tietjen.

According to Hutson, the staff at Sutter Memorial Medical Center recognized the young woman was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and once she mentioned that there were others at home, that’s when hospital staff quickly jumped into action and alerted fire crews to go back.

“We’re talking in a matter of maybe 15, 20 minutes that they had the process turned back around, and they had Truck 5 at the home,” said Tietjen.

Once crews returned to Tokay Avenue, they were banging on the door to make contact with those inside, but no one answered.

“They were able to open the door, and they noticed the man unresponsive, they quickly donned breathing apparatus. Alarms were sounding,” said Tietjen.

“They said three hours later, we’d be dead,” said Hutson.

The levels of carbon monoxide were apparently so high inside the home, that officials say the victim’s suffered an altered state of consciousness.

And it turns out it was a portable generator that the residents were temporarily using for electricity that caused it.

Now, Hutson and his friends are just thankful everyone involved acted as quickly as they did.

“First response team, my props to them, they saved my life,” said Hutson.

Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and tasteless so you’ll never know its there until maybe it’s too late.

Tietjen hopes this acts as a reminder to everyone to make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working.

Shirin Rajaee


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