Early morning chaos occurred at an old Fredonia motel, now used as a rental unit. It arrived when a silent, toxic gas, carbon monoxide, permeated the inn and sickened 16 individuals who were sleeping at the time. Fortunately, one person was cognizant enough to recognize the symptoms, and crawled out of the motel to get help.

Acting Fire Chief Dustin Riddle said Fredonia Fire Department volunteers arrived at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Monday, November 19.

Riddle said 16 people were taken to Kane County Hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning.

KCH responded to the medical crisis by calling in extra staff to assist in patient care. All but four were treated at the hospital and released. The other four were transferred to Dixie Regional Hospital for hyperbaric chamber treatment – two by fixed wing air and two by helicopter.

Apparently the inn was rented out to a crew from Northern Utah that were trimming and cutting trees on the Kaibab this past summer and fall. The group normally heated the area with a furnace and electric space heaters. But the furnace fan got too loud, so they turned that off and used the gas cook stove to warm the place on the cold night.

The crew was scheduled to leave Monday morning and head back up north as their job was done for the year

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, which can be produced by gas-powered tools or heaters.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are light-headedness, confusion, vertigo and headaches. Larger exposures can lead to toxicity of the central nervous system and heart, and even death.

A hyperbaric chamber is used to treat those with the highest amounts of carbon monoxide in their body. It can deliver up to 100% oxygen, hopefully infusing the patient with healthy oxygen, and stopping or reversing the potentially fatal effects of the carbon monoxide.

Fire Chief Riddle said,“PA Hernan Gareaud told me if it had been 20 minutes later, there would have been numerous fatalities.”