Authorities in Utah reported that on New Year's Eve, nearly fifty members of a Mormon chapel were hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office, the Monroe East chapel, located around 170 miles south of Salt Lake City, made two calls on Sunday. The first one was for a little girl of four years old who was having trouble breathing, and the second one was for a man who had been sick for nearly an hour and had initially attributed his symptoms to low blood sugar.
The Monroe City Fire Department was summoned to the building to do a carbon monoxide poisoning test after another family reported headaches while returning from church, according to the sheriff's office. Crews evacuated the area after discovering high quantities of the gas.
According to the church's statement to NBC News, the heating system breakdown was the cause of the incident, and the building was closed until all safety issues were addressed.
There were 49 individuals hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning, but no fatalities have been reported, according to Sevier County Sheriff Nathan Curtis, who spoke with USA TODAY on Tuesday.
Carbon monoxide poisoning on Sunday was the largest he has ever seen, according to Curtis. During the winter, when heating systems are always operating, he said, the events are more likely to occur, and he urged people to get checked early if they feel sick.
The United States has a low carbon monoxide death toll. Unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning was responsible for 28,900 deaths worldwide in 2021, according to the Lancet Public Health, with an estimated 420 annual deaths in the United States, according to the CDC.
Efforts like Sunday's poisoning necessitate a full response in Monroe, a town of approximately 2,500 residents, according to Curtis. In order to transport some individuals to hospitals over a hundred miles distant, where the hyperbaric chambers—a therapy for poisoning—were accessible, law enforcement from nearby counties was summoned.