Carbon monoxide sickens several at Long Island home

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) -- A carbon monoxide leak at a Long Island house sent a half-dozen people to a hospital and knocked two unconscious Tuesday, but most were released and the homeowner said the others were recovering hours later.

The scare started when two teenage girls visiting relatives at the Garden City home abruptly fainted after coming upstairs around 8 a.m. from the basement room where they'd slept, homeowner Martin Arellano said.

Authorities arrived to find the girls, 16 and 17, unconscious and with "a high level" of carbon monoxide, Police Inspector Michael J. Doyle told Newsday.

Police said the girls and four other people were taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where a spokeswoman said four of the patients had been released by midafternoon. Arellano said the others were doing well.

"It was scary there for a while, but everybody's OK," Arellano, who didn't need medical treatment, said by phone. The girls who fainted are his cousins, visiting with their family from Columbia, South Carolina.

As police investigated the cause, Arellano said the problem arose after his gas heater switched on for the first time this winter. No one realized its exhaust pipe had been blocked during unrelated work in the basement this summer, he said.

The home's carbon monoxide detector was obscured by papers and didn't sense the exhaust coming into the basement during the hour or so that the boiler was running, Arellano said.

He said gas service has since been turned off, and the families were figuring out where to spend Tuesday night.

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