State investigating dangerous carbon monoxide levels in dozens of Southern Indiana homes

More than 100 calls were made to Clarksville and New Albany Fire reporting carbon monoxide poisoning. The cause has not yet been determined.
Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 6:08 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It was a silent nightmare of a Christmas in Clarksville and New Albany.

More than 100 calls were made to Clarksville and New Albany Fire reporting carbon monoxide poisoning. The cause has not yet been determined.

The Clarksville Fire Department issued an alert Saturday to local residents regarding a dangerous carbon monoxide issue affecting southern Indiana. Clarksville Fire said they’ve responded at least four more carbon monoxide calls since Tuesday.

Around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, firefighters responded to a call of two residents in south Clarksville experiencing chest pains, according to Clarksville officials.

”We had an influx of calls,” Chief Brandon Skaggs said. “We had several. Almost two dozen calls in a short period of time. So we knew that something was going on. We just didn’t know what and why.”

Skaggs said all the calls were concentrated in the eastern part of the city.

New Albany and Clarksville officials said they’ve been working with Clarksville emergency teams and the provider for the area, CenterPoint Energy, to determine the cause of the problem.

CenterPoint Energy released the following statement Tuesday regarding the recent carbon monoxide issues in southern Indiana:

“At this time, there is no indication of issues with CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas system, and it continues to operate safely. Since calls began coming in on the morning of Christmas Eve, we have been working with the Clarksville and New Albany Fire Departments to respond to the increase in carbon monoxide calls in the area, including having local management from CenterPoint Energy Operations on the ground to support Clarksville and New Albany emergency responders.

We always take emergency calls very seriously and have responded to, and investigated, the potential causes of carbon monoxide. We found the majority of calls CenterPoint Energy responded to were due to improper appliance venting. Additionally, the extreme weather, including freezing temperatures, high wind gusts and snow/ice accumulation were also contributing factors to further issues with customer appliances as their equipment was stressed during the event.

As is industry practice, CenterPoint Energy has utilized a propane air mix to supplement natural gas to assist during times of high system demand. The propane-air peak shaving plant which serves a portion of the area has been in service since the 1970s and is regularly monitored and maintained to industry standards. It has been used during past extreme weather events, including last year during a similar cold weather event, to help safely and reliably deliver natural gas service to customers in the Clarksville and New Albany areas.

We want to echo our earlier reminder on exercising caution when utilizing fuel-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide can result from incomplete combustion, and proper venting is essential to ensure safe use. We will continue to partner with local agencies and assess any issues that may arise. Our thoughts are with those families who have been affected during the holidays,” Natalie Hedde, Director, Government Affairs for CenterPoint Energy wrote.

Officials said the issue is so severe, an emergency command center has been set up at the Clarksville Fire Department headquarters. At least four people have been taken to the hospital.

Indiana’s Utility Regulatory Commission is investigating.

Clarksville Fire Department is urging everyone to install carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are working properly.