Leiden apartment building evacuated over carbon monoxide leak

Firefighters' gear
Firefighters gear. (Wikimedia Commons)

An apartment building on Valkenhorst in Leiden was evacuated just after midnight after the fire department discovered that several geysers in the building emit far too much carbon monoxide. The fire brigade was called in after a family living in the building went to hospital when they felt ill, Omroep West reports.

The fire brigade evacuated all 42 homes in the building. Around 10 people were checked by ambulance personnel. Residents were given shelter in an adjacent shopping mall. 

Too high concentrations of carbon monoxide was found in at least three homes, fire chief Ton Koot said to the broadcaster. Firefighters were busy checking homes until around 4:00 a.m. on Monday. Defected geysers were found in ten homes. These geysers were disconnected from the gas line. The evacuated residents were all allowed to return to their homes after the fire department was done.

In the coming days, the fire brigade will also check the geysers in other, similar apartment buildings, according to the broadcaster.

Carbon monoxide is sometimes called the 'silent assassin', because the gas has no smell. Exposure to too high levels of the gas can cause severe fatigue, nausea, irritability and reduced vision. Persons exposed to the gas fall unconscious after around two hours, and die after two or three hours more. Every year an average of 11 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning in the Netherlands, according to Omroep West.