Carbon monoxide blamed for Ore. church illnesses

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- A Portland fire spokesman says carbon monoxide from a furnace is to blame for the symptoms that sickened nearly a dozen people Tuesday night at a northeast Portland church.

Spokesman Paul Corah says 11 of about 15 people at the Northeast Baptist Church reported experiencing symptoms of nausea, dizziness, skin redness and fainting. Nine people were transported to area hospitals while two more were treated by medics at the scene.

Because of cold weather, the church's furnace had been turned on for the first time this season. Hazardous materials firefighters determined that exceptionally high levels of carbon monoxide were coming from the furnace area.

HazMat Coordinator Grant Coffey says levels of the odorless, colorless gas were at 1,400 parts per million in the basement, a level that can be deadly after prolonged exposure. Elsewhere in the church, gas levels were sufficient to make people extremely sick.