A carbon monoxide (CO) leak in Lower Manhattan left 32 people with minor injuries after a broken flue pipe leaked exhaust into the basement of a restaurant.
The incident spurred fears of something more nefarious after reports that a box opened in the basement was the cause of the incident.
“A male worker was opening up the box and about 10 feet away there was a female worker that fainted. He associated her fainting with the opening of that box, not knowing that it was actually carbon monoxide,” Chief William Aubry, Detective Bureau, Manhattan South, explained to reporters.
A 911 call at 8:22 a.m. had emergency medical services on the scene seven minutes later, explained James Leonard, chief of the FDNY.
“They encountered numerous people down from CO and they found high levels CO in the basement area, in the sub-basement area and in parts of the building. We immediately started removing people. We found a defective boiler in the basement with some kind of pipe that was producing CO.”
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Due to questions around the box, bomb services were brought in, located the box, and examined it.
“There was no hazard in that package,” said Leonard.
The injured people were taken to Beekman Downtown Hospital and Bellevue Hospital Center. All are expected to recover, injuries were minor.
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The pipe was capped and CO levels are dropping, said Leonard.
“It was a very systematic, professional operation by both FDNY and NYPD who worked very closely together in a very unusual situation to mitigate this problem. But at the end of the day, it seems that we had a defective boiler with a broken flue pipe that produced high amounts of CO, which hurt and injured the people that were working in the restaurant.”