PORTLAND -- A family of three was saved by a father who called 9-1-1 Wednesday morning to report a seizure of his child in what turned out to be a house filled with deadly levels of carbon monoxide.
When Portland Fire Bureau crews arrived at the home at SE 15th and Lambert about 6 a.m., they found Teresa Farrell and her child lying down at the bottom of stairs. The father, Rodney Gunther, was agitated, confused and said he felt ill, said bureau spokesman Paul Corah.
"I didn't know what was going on, but something was wrong," Gunther said. "Sometime before four and six a.m. the furnace malfunctioned and carbon monoxide entered the house and our bodies. It appeared (our daughter) was dreaming and something didn't seem right. So we called for help."
Firefighters knew right away that something unseen was amiss in the Sellwood neighborhood home.
Gas detectors showed carbon monoxide levels at 400 parts per million. At 35 to 100 parts per million, people will start to experience flu-like symptoms, Corah said. Fire fighters are not allowed to work at levels beyond 35 without oxygen masks and tanks.
Firefighters learned that the family had come home around midnight from a vacation. They turned on their gas furnace, and a gas appliance that was connected to their fireplace. Crews immediately shut off the gas.
"Because of the father's quick actions, his family is alive today," Corah said, "This demonstrates why anyone who believes they have an emergency should not delay and call 9-1-1 immediately."
Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless. Corah recommends that all homes have carbon monoxide alarms.
The family was taken to a Providence Portland Hospital, where Farrell and Gunther were listed in good condition. Authorities have not released any information about the child's condition or age.