Two people were hospitalized and 16 others left homeless after a gas leak forced the evacuation of a Watsonville apartment complex late Sunday, the reported.
The 11-unit complex in a Victorian building at 32 Marchant Street was deemed uninhabitable while officials investigated the leak, according to Watsonville fire battalion chief Bob Martin Del Campo.
The source of the carbon monoxide poisoning was traced to a faulty wall heater in a room of the apartment where, earlier, firefighters had found two people unconscious, according to PG&E spokeswoman Fiona Chang.
The heater was removed, and PG&E inspectors determined there was no problem with the gas main, Chang said.
The gas leak was reported around 11:30 p.m. Fire crews, police and PG&E responded to the apartments.
Firefighters immediately turned off gas to the property.
Most residents had evacuated on their own but—after sounding alarms for a second time to clear the building—firefighters were told there might still be people in one apartment, Martin Del Campo said.
When they heard “a particular apartment was probably still occupied, they knocked on the door, and when they got no response, they made entry,” Martin Del Campo said.
Firefighters found a young couple in bed and unresponsive. The man and woman were treated by paramedics at the scene, then rushed to l, Martin Del Campo said.
Their conditions were not available Monday morning.
About 16 other residents were unhurt but left homeless by the gas leak. The Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Red Cross helped them find housing.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the people who are experiencing this incident,” Martin Del Campos said.
Monday morning, crews from PG&E, the city’s building department and the fire department were inspecting the apartment complex to determine the source of the leak.
Martin Del Campo urged people to check their carbon monoxide detectors, especially in the winter when gas heat is used more. The detectors are available at most home stores and require just one nine-volt batter.
“They need to be checked on a regular basis because this can be avoided,” Martin Del Campo said.
To help the families displaced by the gas leak, donate to the American Red Cross online or by calling 831-462-2881.
PG&E also will check natural gas lines in homes for problems, Chang said. Call 800-PGE-5000 (800-743-5000) to schedule a free inspection.