December 24, 2013

Ice storm claims first victim: Knox man dies of carbon monoxide poisoning

Timothy Woods died while refueling generator in garage, state police said.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

Maine State Police reported a fatal case of carbon monoxide poisoning in Waldo County this afternoon, the first death apparently related to the ice storm.

Timothy Woods, 50, of Knox, entered a detached garage on his property to refill a generator with gasoline, according to a statement released by Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

When Woods didn’t return from the garage, other family members grew concerned and found his body in the garage about 15 minutes later. The family called authorities at about 5:30 a.m., McCausland said.

About half of the Knox customers of Central Maine Power were reportedly without power shortly after noon Tuesday.

Waldo County has been hard-hit by the power outages, with 18,500 of 23,800 customers without power early Tuesday afternoon.

News releases from emergency officials throughout the state have stressed the dangers of running generators, whichmust be operated outdoors at least 15 feet from any doors or windows.

“People may be tempted to run gas-powered generators in the basement or garage, but this is extremely dangerous,” Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a news release over the weekend.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas formed when burning most types of fuels. Using generators, charcoal grills and gas grills can cause poisoning if gas builds up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces. Warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are flu-like symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness and confusion, but no fever.

The center for disease control reported two deaths and four nonfatal poisonings in Maine because of carbon monoxide exposure during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, when power was out for many in Maine for several days.

In 1998, at least two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning during the ice storm.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 Twitter: @hh_matt
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