An 84-year-old man is dead and seven women were taken to an area hospital Thursday as a result of a carbon monoxide leak in a large home on a gated street in Oak Brook, authorities said.
Oak Brook firefighters and police officers responded about 9:45 a.m. to a call of a woman having difficulty breathing at a house on the 2900 block of Oak Brook Hills Road just south of I-88 and west of Butterfield Country Club.
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When firefighters arrived, they said they found several people in the house who were having trouble breathing and seemed disoriented.
The 84-year-old man was found unresponsive in a bathroom and seven women ranging in age from their 20s to 70s were taken by ambulances from five departments to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove. Some of the occupants are believed to be related, while others were staff members working in the home.
Three women have been placed in hyperbaric chambers, the hospital said.
"The (seven women) were all conscious, they all self-evacuated and were able to walk out," Acting Fire Chief Gary Clark said.
Authorities are not yet releasing the names of any of the victims.
Firefighters using an air monitor immediately found high levels of carbon monoxide in the 15,000-square-foot house, measuring 1,000 parts per million.
Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, can be toxic to humans and animals when encountered in higher concentrations. Clark said at 200 parts per million an individual can experience headache, fatigue and dizziness within two to four hours; at 400 parts per million it can be life-threatening after four hours; at 800 an individual can become unconscious within two hours.
Clark said firefighters found the carbon monoxide readings highest near an indoor swimming pool on the first floor and the leak may be related to a heating system for the pool.
The exact cause and source is still being investigated. It does not appear foul play was involved.
"There are also multiple hot water heaters, boilers, furnaces -- multiple things it could be coming from," Clark said. "It was definitely related to carbon monoxide."
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries and, according to the American Medical Association, it causes 450 deaths and more than 20,000 emergency visits in the U.S. each year.
Clark said that when the initial crew arrived at the Oak Brook home there were no audible carbon monoxide alarms. If alarms were present, he said they must have malfunctioned.
Clark said neighbors did not appear to be aware of the leak. The large home is set back from the road on a private street gated at both ends.