Four employees were taken by ambulance to Washington Regional Medical Center after a sewer gas leak with high levels of carbon monoxide reported in the women's bathroom at Elkhart Products Corp in Fayetteville, according to Mauro Campos, Battalion Chief.
Two other employees suffered leak symptoms and drove themselves to the hospital. Campos says one person refused medical treatment.
Firefighters and a HAZMAT team were called to the business located at 3265 S. School Avenue around 10:45 a.m.
But Campos said the smell was first noticed Monday night. At least one employee became sick, but not enough to be hospitalized, he says.
Campos says this is a very serious situation but everyone hospitalized is expected to make full a recovery.
"We have seen these types of things before, however, it is life threatening, they are dangerous," says Campos. "The longer you are exposed to the gases and the biproducts of sewer gas, the longer recovery you have and it can cause death."
Campos says it is not uncommon for people to be confused about what they are smelling, when there is a leak such as this one, because the odor simply smells like sewage.
At this time, CO levels appear to be normal but concentration levels will continue to be monitored.
"We are going to ventilate the area and make it tenable for human activity in there," says Campos. "At that point, it would be up to the management here to clean that area out and see what the problem is. We do know that it is in the sewer system or in their piping."
The six hospitalized employees' identities have not been released and their conditions are unknown at this time; Campos does expect them to make a full recovery.
Elkhart produces copper fittings for use in residential and commercial construction, according to their website.