Many MUW Students Sickened After A Carbon Monoxide Leak At A Residence Hall

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s been a long day for many of those Mississippi University for Women students.

The first victims began feeling the symptoms around five Tuesday morning.

It’s a much different scene out here tonight, than when I first arrived this morning.

Columbus firefighters say the boiler in the basement was not working properly.

Spokesman Anthony Colom tells us the carbon monoxide filtered to all five floors of this building.

Dozens of Mississippi University for Women students are checked by first responders, after a reported carbon monoxide scare at a dorm early Tuesday morning.

They lined up next to an ambulance and others went back to get their belongings inside.

While not everyone became sick, firefighters immediately knew they were dealing with what some call, the silent killer.

“Once, Columbus Fire and Rescue got on scene, quickly determined because of the lack of smell of natural gas, decided to follow protocol and check for carbon monoxide, and there was extremely elevated levels of carbon monoxide in the dorm,” says Columbus Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Duane Hughes.

Shortly after emergency crews arrived, 28 students were taken to Baptist Golden Triangle Hospital, either by ambulance or by private vehicle to be checked out.

“There was a guy on our floor, who was basically pale white. He looked like a ghost when they were trying to get him out. He was falling out. He was like very non-responsive, kind of. He was like very out of it and we had to like carry him on the elevator and brought him down and I think the ambulance got him and took him to the hospital. I think he is doing okay now,” says MUW student, Jackson Jones.

Kincannon resident Jackson Jones says he and his roommate were unsure what was going on, but were able to quickly get outside.

“We had our window open, we had fans blowing in, so you know, possibly you know, because all of the oxygen that was coming into our room, might have been a reason why we weren’t affected.”

MUW freshman and baseball player, Sumpter Bass, remembers waking up to voices telling him and other residents to get out of the dorm.

“I just remember firefighters coming in saying, ‘get out, get out, it’s dangerous,’ and there was a guy that was a few doors down from us and he was like passing out at the time. He was real light-headed and stuff, so it was pretty scary.”

Interim Executive Director for University Relations Anika Perkins says an apparent boiler misfire is to blame.

This is incident is one reason Perkins believes universities must have emergency plans in place.

“Throughout the year, we make it a point to exercise those plans and just to make sure that everybody is on the same page and that we’re doing what we need to do to make sure that students, faculty, staff, everybody is safe.”

Columbus firefighters say it’s unknown how long students were exposed to the poisonous gas and if there were any carbon monoxide detectors on site.

The fire department also says the state fire marshal may come in to investigate, since the residence hall is state owned.

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