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Carbon monoxide sends five from Kingston to hospitals

Five people were sent to hospitals after being overcome by carbon monoxide gas in their Kingston home.

George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Five people were sent to hospitals after being overcome by carbon monoxide gas in their Kingston home.

KINGSTON — Carbon monoxide from a generator powering a house where NStar shut off electricity a day before sickened six people Thursday, leaving a 19-year-old woman unconscious and sending five others to a hospital.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said the house would not have filled with the poisonous gas if the house had been equipped with carbon monoxide detectors and the generator had been used properly.

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“This is an incident that never should have happened,” Coan said outside 6 Bavarian Way. “This was preventable, and, unfortunately, somebody took it upon himself or herself to engage in very risky behavior.”

A resident called 911 at 6:41 a.m. and reported that a 19-year-old woman was unconscious inside the home, said Kingston Fire Chief Robert T. Heath. The stricken woman was found in the kitchen and was taken by medical helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she was in critical but stable condition, Heath said.

The woman who called authorities and other members of her family, including another 19-year-old woman, a 7-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl were taken by ambulance to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Heath said. The woman’s husband was driven to the hospital by a neighbor and evaluated, he said. A hospital spokeswoman said he was treated and released.

The woman who was taken to MGH is not a family member, but was living at the home, Heath said. He declined to release the victims’ names.

“Hopefully, everything will work out,” said Town Administrator Robert H. Fennessy Jr.

A female patient was transported to an awaiting medical helicopter at the nearby Sacred Heart High School.

George Rizer for The Boston Globe

A female patient was transported to an awaiting medical helicopter at the nearby Sacred Heart High School.

On Wednesday, the family turned on a generator in a garage, where someone closed a door overnight and carbon monoxide filled the house, Heath said. The house did not have carbon monoxide detectors, and most of the smoke detectors had been taken down.

NStar shut off electricity to the house Wednesday, Heath said. A neighbor, Rick Kedski, said the male resident told him after the incident that he was late on his electricity bill, but paid it on Wednesday and was informed it might take a day for power to be restored.

“He was more concerned about the kids, going to see them,” Kedski said. “He was telling me he felt real sick to his stomach.”

Mike Durand, an NStar spokesman, said the utility does not discuss customer accounts.

Most residences have been required by law to have carbon monoxide detectors since 2006. The legislation was passed after a 7-year-old Plymouth girl was killed by carbon monoxide after snow covered the outlet for the family furnace.

The state does not track the number of residences equipped with the detectors since the law passed, but properties getting ready to be sold are inspected for the devices, Coan said.

Heath, the fire chief, said carbon monoxide detectors are available to the public for free at the fire station in town.

Fire departments statewide reported 15,228 carbon monoxide-related incidents in 2012, including 4,190 cases in which the presence of the gas was confirmed, Coan’s office said.

A generator should not have been in a garage, Coan said.

“There’s no safe way to use a generator inside a home to create a power source,” he said.

According to Kingston town records, the Cape-style house is assessed at $315,000. It was built in 1992 and has been owned by the same individuals since 2001.

Larry Cummings, who lives across the street, said his neighbors are good people and he hopes they recover.

“Nobody wants to see that happen to anybody,” he said.

Globe correspondent George Rizer contributed. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com.
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