Nacogdoches County, TX – Three people have died as a result of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after they ran their electric generator too close to their house, according to Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges. The victims are two men and a woman.
Bridges posted a video about the tragedy on the NCSO Facebook page.
“I just came from a horrific, gruesome scene,” Bridges said. “It’s one that will stay with me a long time. It’s just a terrible situation.”
A justice of the peace has ordered that autopsies be performed on the victims.
“I just wanted to use this to educate our citizens,” Bridges said in the video. “I know it’s been a tough week and that there are a lot of people without power or water. Do not run generators inside your home or inside your garage.”
Bridges said the victims in Etoile were using a generator for electricity, and they had put it on their porch. He explained it was too close to the house, and its exhaust got hot enough that it burned a hole into the home’s siding.
“We don’t want to see another one of these deaths,” Bridges said. “If you’re running a generator, please be smart about it. Get it away from your house and don’t put it in your garage. Use them at a safe distance from your homes.”
Bridges said carbon monoxide is a silent killer and that it should be taken seriously.
“It will kill you,” Bridges said.
The Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department in the Houston area has responded to 18 incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning in the last week or so. In all, they transported 26 people to Houston-area hospitals.
“Carbon Monoxide (CO) is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces,” a post on the Cy-Fair VFD Facebook page stated. “CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. Please keep you and your family safe when staying warm.”
According to another C-Fair VFD Facebook post, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headaches, disorientation, nausea, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911.
Carbon monoxide poisonings have spiked this week according to reports from the Texas Poison Center Network and the state health department.
The family told East Texas News that the deaths illustrate the desperation many Texans faced during the extreme cold.
“We’re not prepared for the kind of weather that we got this week,” said Traci Benge, who is related to two of the victims. “I’m not sure if you’re freezing cold and you’re just trying to get some heat. It’s a tragedy. It happened. It sucks. It’s awful. I just came here to find some kind of closure.”
Benge is Richard Woodard’s sister and JJ James Harkness’ niece.
Family members said paying for the multiple funerals will be difficult. A funeral account will be set up at Bancorp South in Nacogdoches.
“Please be careful,” Bridges said. “I hope everyone’s power is back on soon.”