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BY COLIN MIXSON
A boiler malfunction poisoned dozens of people with carbon monoxide in Tribeca on June 13, and led firefighters to evacuate buildings and close numerous blocks along Murray Street.
A busted pipe at 60 Murray Street between West Broadway and Church Avenue began pumping deadly levels of carbon monoxide into the building at 8:22 am, according to Fire Chief James Leonard.
Paramedics and firefighters arrived at the scene to find “numerous people” passed out at the Amish Market located on the ground floor and immediately set about evacuating the ailing occupants.
Carbon Monoxide buildup was so high in the basement, according to Leonard, that it exceeded the maximum levels that FDNY meters are capable of detecting, and was strong enough to knock a person out after just a few breaths.
“We had it in parts at least 1,000-parts-per-million of CO, which can render you unconscious very, very quickly,” Leonard said at a press conference following the incident.
Workers toiling below the Amish Market initially reported that the incident was caused by “white powder” located in a box containing a shipment of salad bowls, Leonard said, after someone happened to pass out just as it was being opened.
Firefighters worked with police specialists to investigate the suspicious box of salad bowls out of Brooklyn, but ultimately determined the feinting incidents were caused solely by the carbon monoxide leak, according to NYPD Chief of Manhattan Detectives William Aubrey.
“A male worker was opening up the box and about 10 feet away there was a female worker by the bathroom that feinted,” Aubrey said. “He associated her feinting with the opening of that box not knowing that it was actually carbon monoxide.”
The incident sent 32 people to Bellevue Hospital Center and Beekman Downtown Hospital, all with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Leonard.
The basement where the boiler was located was not equipped with carbon-monoxide detectors, but city law does not require detectors in commercial areas of buildings, according to Department of Buildings spokesman Andrew Rudansky.
Carbon monoxide was, however, detected at some levels in residential parts of the building, according to Leonard.