SEATTLE — About 100 people have been poisoned by carbon monoxide produced by generators and charcoal grills used for warmth and light during the widespread power outages caused by a major storm in western Washington state.
One man died of inhaling the colorless, odorless gas. At least six other people were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in Oregon.
“We’re dealing with a carbon-monoxide epidemic in western Washington,” said Dr. Neil Hampson of Virginia Mason Medical Center, which treated more than 55 people in its hyperbaric chamber, where pressure is used to force oxygen into the blood.
“This has the potential to be the worst case of carbon-monoxide poisoning in the country,” Hampson said.
The region’s worst windstorm in more than a decade struck on Thursday, knocking out power to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses.
Puget Sound Energy, the state’s largest private utility, listed about 280,000 customers still without power Sunday, with Seattle City Light reporting 21,000 still blacked out and Snohomish County Public Utility District, north of Seattle, said it had restored service to all but 9,000 customers.
Gov. Chris Gregoire expanded an earlier disaster proclamation to cover the entire state, freeing counties to spend money necessary to help victims. The state National Guard was also mobilized to help get fuel and supplies to hard-hit areas.
In northern Nevada, residents were clearing away snow and ice Sunday from a storm a day earlier. There were more than 100 crashes, and two Reno children were injured Sunday after sledding down a hillside and colliding with a pickup, police said.
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