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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Windstorm aftermath still felt

From Staff and Wire Reports The Spokesman-Review

At least 100 people, including one man who died, suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after they dragged generators and charcoal grills inside to stay warm after Thursday’s windstorm caused widespread power outages in Western Washington.

“We’re dealing with a carbon-monoxide epidemic in Western Washington,” said Dr. Neil Hampson in Virginia Mason’s Center for Hyperbaric Medicine. “This has the potential to be the worst case of carbon-monoxide poisoning in the country.”

A 26-year-old Kirkland man was found dead in his home Saturday with a generator running in the living room. Other victims as young as 11 months were treated at Seattle area hospitals after inhaling carbon monoxide.

At least five people were at Harborview Medical Center, one in serious condition Sunday and the others stable, a nursing supervisor said. Virginia Mason Medical Center had treated more than 55 victims in its hyperbaric chamber, which re-oxygenates the blood.

Among the patients treated at Harborview and Virginia Mason were 34 Kent residents, mostly Somali immigrants who had been cooking and warming themselves over charcoal grills brought indoors, according to the Kent Fire Department.

The state Department of Health asked the federal Centers for Disease Control to immediately translate its poison-prevention worksheets into five African and Southeast Asian languages. Public Health-Seattle and King County also asked groups active in immigrant communities to caution against using heat sources with toxic byproducts.

Nearly 300,000 people remained without power in Western Washington late Sunday.

In the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area, about 1,100 Avista Utilities customers remained without power Sunday, the bulk of them around Hayden Lake and Spirit Lake, Idaho. A spokeswoman said the company hopes to have the customers on line today.

By 9 p.m. Sunday, Avista had restored service to 97 percent of the 50,000 customers who lost power in the storm, spokeswoman Laurine Jue said.

Among those still waiting for power Sunday afternoon was Kim Gilbert, of Coeur d’Alene, who said Avista had told residents of her neighborhood, the 1200 through 1500 blocks of Margaret Avenue, that power would be restored by last Friday.

“We have lived here for 20 years, and we are perfectly aware of what Mother Nature doles out,” Gilbert said Sunday. “But we’re being neglected.”

Only 142 Coeur d’Alene customers remained without power late Sunday, Jue said. About 400 Inland Power and Light customers, mostly at Newman Lake and Blanchard, Idaho, remained without power Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a real mess out there in the Newman Lake area,” said Inland Power spokesman Dan Villalobos, who added that crews would be working throughout the night Sunday.

Villalobos said half of the 6,000 Inland Power and Light customers who lost power in the storm were back on line by Friday.

Gov. Chris Gregoire expanded an earlier disaster proclamation to cover the entire state, freeing counties to spend money to help storm victims.

At its peak, the windstorm knocked out power to more than 1 million people. By Sunday, the storm had resulted in at least six deaths, including a Spanaway man, Steven Thielen, 48, who died Saturday in a fire started by a candle burning in his home.

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