KFD: 34 overcome by Carbon Monoxide fumes at Knoxville business

Knoxville (WVLT) - Authorities say problems with a propane forklift caused 34 people to be overcome by Carbon Monoxide fumes.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy has the newest updates on the story.

Semi trucks have started pulling back up to the loading dock that's well ventilated, but inside the Carbon Monoxide still lingers. A deadly gas that sent dozens to the hospital.

Flashing lights, nearly a dozen ambulances. Inside one of them, Nancy Llamas' father.

"I really got scared because it's my father, you know," Llamas said.

He was among at least 45 workers evacuated from Bonanza Produce just after 6:00 Tuesday, four employees suffering...

"Nausea, possibly vomiting, light headedness and weakness," Knoxville Fire Department spokesman Darrell Whitaker said.

All telltale signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

"As a matter of fact, the highest reading was 464 parts per million. The dangers of that, we would evacuate a house if the parts per million were near 50," Whitaker said.

Readings that put more than 30 workers en route to a half dozen Knoxville hospitals. Problems prompted by a propane forklift.

"Most of the forklifts they have here are electric. This particular one was propane and had problems, but the gentleman driving it didn't know," Whitaker said.

The strong odor raised concerns of a chemical cocktail. Carbon Monoxide is odorless

"Certainly in the process of cleaning produce it had to use a chemical process that involved ethanol and chlorine and others that I'm not aware," Whitaker said.

Hazmat crews determined the odor posed no health risks Llamas just wants to get back by her fathers side.

"It's very scary. I'm on my way to Fort Sanders. He told me he was doing okay, but he had a headache," Llamas said.

Symptoms crews say should fade, but the memory of these lights.

Employees got the ok to go back to work on the loading dock Tuesday. Those are well ventilated, but inside, air curtains prevented Hazmat crews from clearing the air fast enough.

KUB will be there Wednesday morning to take Carbon Monoxide readings. If they're down to a safe level, crews will be allowed back in to work.

Stay connected to Volunteer TV News and volunteertv.com for continued coverage of this developing news story.


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  • by Alex Location: Knoxville on Dec 11, 2007 at 11:21 PM
    I hope someone investigates the citizenship status of all employees of Bonanza Produce. Possibly illegal aliens? "The business will be allowed to reopen if chemical levels are okay tomorrow." Is anyone going to check the company's employee records before these people go back to work?

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