Mysterious Gas Leak Kills 1
Workers packed produce Saturday afternoon at Norton Creek Farms in Macon County, where a mysterious gas leak killed a worker and sent 16 people to the hospital not 24 hours before.
Clarks Chapel Fire and Rescue received a call at 7 p.m. Friday that two workers were unconscious inside the farm's refrigeration facility.
When rescue personnel arrived at the plant five minutes later, Chief Tim Keener ran inside.
"The [worker] that I went to - I checked his pulse, he didn't have a pulse, so I just immediately grabbed him and got him out of the building," said Keener. "The other gentleman was breathing a little bit."
The two men were pulled out - one would die at the hospital - and minutes later an eerie scene as 13 first responders started showing symptoms.
"They started getting sick, you started to see them sweating profusely, they started turning red, their eyes swelling shut, started vomiting," said Assistant Chief Matt Mason.
Even standing outside the building - deputies, paramedics and firefighters were poisoned by odorless carbon monoxide gas.
Mason said gas monitors were reading levels more than thirty times the amount considered lethal.
"We were running low on manpower, we had eight of our firefighters going to the hospital," said Mason.
Four other fire departments were called in as even thirty feet away from the building, the monitor still read dangerously high levels.
"Never seen anything like this before, we've never even had a gas monitor read levels that high before," said Mason.
Saturday - as farm workers are back on the job walking in and out of the facility - the owner said he still doesn't know what happened.
Two OSHA inspectors visited the farm early this morning. Officials speculate the gas may have come for a leak in a building refrigeration unit, or possibly fumes from vehicles in or just outside of the building.