Word To The Wise: Service Your Chimney! Silent Killer Doesn't Discriminate

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A family has been poisoned in their own home. Seven people were knocked out by toxic gas from a blocked chimney. And they weren’t the only ones affected.

The house was off limits Monday night, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

There’s now an orange sticker on the front and back doors declaring the house uninhabitable. All of the people sickened survived, but there’s a warning — a faulty chimney flue was the cause and it could happen to anyone.

Neighbors on Gamewell Street spent Monday learning about a carbon monoxide close call for a family and others. They were overcome and knocked unconscious.

“It’s a silent killer, man. I saw a gurney, with them pushing the gurney, and I said ‘oh boy, what’s going on?’” neighbor Fred Stagg told Dennis.

“I’m very upset. I’m sorry. I saw the orange sticker on the house, but I had no idea,” added Ana Campoverde.

“Cop, police car, fire department, ambulance, I see them take a few people out with the mask on their…[face],” Paul Montes said.

Fire officials said it was at around 12:30 p.m. Monday when police responded to a 911 call at the house — and that started a domino effect.

A mother, father and 14-year-old child were the first victims, found by four other relatives in town for a wedding who were overcome themselves.

And then, responding officers fell ill. All nine victims had to be rushed to a local hospital. A faulty flue in the chimney was said to be to blame.

“It was not venting properly, and as a result the carbon monoxide built up in the home,” Hackensack Fire Lt. Stephen Lindner said.

Add to that the fact that the single family home had no working carbon monoxide detectors, so the chimney buildup of a whopping 1,000 parts per million of carbon monoxide went virtually undetected.

“You shouldn’t have anything. Sometimes when you’re cooking, with your stove, if you open the oven door, you may have a little bit, but normally you shouldn’t have any carbon monoxide in your home. So zero really, should be zero,” Lt. Lindner said when asked what a normal carbon monoxide reading should be.

So, just to be clear, fire officials said what happened Monday was not a carbon monoxide buildup that started just Monday, but rather a buildup over time from not having the chimney cleaned and serviced regularly.

While there is no firm rule on how often you should clean a chimney, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends they should be inspected at least once a year, as should fireplaces and vents.

What steps are you taking to protect yourself and your family from this “silent killer”? Let us know in our comments section below…