Three adults died and a fourth person was hospitalized after a carbon monoxide poisoning inside a home in Plaistow, N.H., fire officials said on Tuesday.
“The moral of the story is, you need to keep batteries in your carbon monoxide detector,” said state Fire Marshal J. William Degnan in a phone interview. “Because someone had moved the batteries [from the victims’ detector]. That was a deadly decision.”
Firefighters were called to 5 Center Circle at about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, after a friend of the victims was unable to contact them, according to Degnan and the Plaistow Fire Department.
The three deceased victims, a woman and two men, were found “unconscious and unresponsive in the home,” the Fire Department said in a statement, and the fourth person, a man, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Degnan said the victims ranged in age from their 30s to 40s. He said the fourth person was “in serious condition” when he was taken to the hospital. The man’s condition on Tuesday night could not be determined.
Autopsies on the other people are planned for Thursday, Degnan said. Officials did not identify the victims.
Degnan said he did not know if they were related. A neighbor told the Associated Press that the four were roommates.
“The source of the carbon monoxide has been determined to be from the home’s propane fired heating system,” the Fire Department said, “Fire officials remind homeowners to ensure they have working smoke and CO detectors in their homes and that heating systems be checked regularly by a qualified technician. Finally, it is important to ensure all vents from your heating system are kept clear of snow and ice, particularly with the amount of snowfall we have had this winter.”
Just last week, Degnan had urged New Hampshire residents to take precautions to prevent carbon monoxide and fire-related tragedies.
“It is the deadliest time of the year for home fires and [carbon monoxide] poisonings,” Degnan said in a statement at the time. “As families struggle to stay warm, it’s important to clear flues and outside exhaust vents of snow and debris, place generators outside if there is a power outage, and keep flammable materials at least three feet away from any heat source. These small, but vital, actions can be life-saving.”