Residents evacuated from Varney Street apartments after carbon monoxide scare

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A firefighter on the scene of a carbon monoxide incident at Varney School Apartments on Wednesday. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – More than 80 people were evacuated from a city-owned Varney Street apartment building on Sept. 26 after high levels of carbon monoxide were detected.

At 11:18 a.m. firefighters responded to the Varney School Apartments, 84 Varney St., for alarms sounding in multiple apartments. On arrival at the multi-story building crews were picking up what was described as “life-threatening levels” of carbon monoxide by Manchester Fire District Chief Hank Martineau.
The highest levels of CO were detected on floors 3, 4, and 5 with the highest readings at 170 ppm. Symptoms are normally present where levels exceed 70 ppm. Additional companies were called to the scene to assist with detection, ventilation, and evacuation efforts.
In total, 83 people were evacuated from 78 units. 
Residents of Varney School Apartments huddle outside while firefighters work to evacuate the building. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

Martineau requested additional units to assist in evacuating residents which included elderly non-ambulatory residents. After evacuations were complete personnel began opening windows and putting high-powered fans in windows to evacuate the carbon monoxide and circulate fresh air through the building.

According to Martineau a company cleaning carpets was at the building earlier in the day and were  parked near the rear stairwell. It appears fumes and carbon monoxide from the truck exhaust traveled up the nearby elevator shaft causing the issue.
The building is operated by Manchester Housing Authority according to Martineau.

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Manchester Fire Department

The mission of the Manchester Fire Department is to provide the City of Manchester with superior customer service and integrated emergency response to any situation that threatens the life, safety and well-being of people and property.