A Crookston couple were found dead in their home, and two of their daughters were sickened early Monday morning, possibly because of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Fargo Forum reports.
Kent Ostgaard, 49, and Natalie Ostgaard, 51, were pronounced dead at the scene. Their daughter, 22-year-old Aryanna Ostgaard, was found unconscious but breathing. She is in critical condition at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, according to Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Tadman.
The Ostgaards' youngest daughter, Gabi, 17, called 911 at 7:49 a.m. to alert authorities, and she was found in the home still conscious. She was treated and released, Tadman told the Fargo Forum.
The Ostgaards' middle child, Cyrina, attends the University of Minnesota Duluth, the Crookston Times reports.
The furnace in the home was off, the Times reports, and a Facebook post from Natalie Ostgaard on Feb. 24 indicated that a part was needed to fix it. The next day, she posted an update saying the family was using other means to keep the house warm.
"We managed to make do with fireplaces, electric stove, blankets and the two heaters we have. Hoping this will be adequate until furnace is fixed!" her post said, according to the Crookston Times.
Crookston firefighters and ambulance crews responded, along with Polk County deputies, because the home is just outside Crookston city limits. Authorities continue to investigate the case, and the bodies of the Ostgaards will be autopsied to determine the exact cause of death.
The below-normal temperatures this winter have led to a series of carbon monoxide cases in the area. The higher cost of heating fuels and a shortage of propane have led some people to use fireplaces, ovens and even charcoal grills to heat their homes.
The Minnesota Department of Health says because carbon monoxide has no color or taste it cannot be detected by human senses. It can build up to dangerous concentrations indoors when fuel-burning devices are not properly vented, operated or maintained.
Health officials estimate that unintentional exposure to carbon monoxide accounts for 500 deaths in the United States each year.
To reduce your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, they recommend making sure all appliances and heating devices are properly vented, knowing the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and installing and maintaining carbon monoxide detectors in your home in accordance with state laws.