SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU/BCN) An elderly man who died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning at a home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood early this morning has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 78-year-old Even Lammers.
People living in the upper unit say their carbon monoxide detector was going off and they made the initial call to authorities.
"We just got it installed in October," said Sarah Reichanadter, a neighbor. "We are really thanking the universe and our management company for installing it just in time. We're alive."
Firefighters then checked on the elderly couple living in the lower unit shortly before 4:30 a.m.. They knocked, but nobody responded. And so they forced entry and found an elderly woman unconscious inside. She was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, which has a hyperbaric chamber specifically meant for carbon monoxide cases, according to Baxter.
Crews continued to search the lower unit at 301 Moultrie St. and found an elderly man, later identified as Lammers, also unconscious. Life-saving measures were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene, Baxter said.
An elderly resident from the upper unit also ended up hospitalized after not feeling well, according to Baxter.
PG&E crews responded to examine appliances for a possible source of the carbon monoxide leak. Baxter said the most likely source is a water heater on the lower level.
Both units had carbon monoxide detectors that were working and sounded alarms, he said.
Fire officials encourage residents who hear a carbon monoxide detector alarm to immediately evacuate their home and then call 911.
Baxter said the fact that the residents in the upper unit called authorities right away might have ended up saving the life of the elderly woman in the lower unit.
Authorities have determined the cause of the carbon monoxide exposure. It was a faulty water heater pilot light. Often, the gas is called the silent killer.
"Carbon monoxide is odorless. You are not going to see it," said Baxter.
Anyone with concerns about whether an appliance is safe from carbon monoxide poisoning or whether a carbon monoxide detector is working properly can call PG&E at (800) 743-5000 for free inspections.