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Recovery expected for family, first responders sickened by carbon monoxide

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A grim scene met first responders who arrived at a farmhouse in rural western Wisconsin where a family was sickened by carbon monoxide. WXOW reported that the first officer who arrived at the two-story home near Arcadia in Trempealeau County on Sunday afternoon found the residents in grave condition.

"There were two adults and two children laying on the floor," said Arcadia police officer Kris Haines. "It appeared that the two children were unconscious and the two adults were somewhat moving and moaning. I tried to make entry into the room to grab the children to remove them and I was overcome and I had to evacuate the room."

In addition to a total of 10 occupants of the farmhouse, Haines and two EMT's were overcome by the fumes. The first responders and the residents were transported by ambulance or helicopter to the to Gundersen Tri-County Hospital in Whitehall. All of them, including five children, are expected to recover. The children range in age from 10 months to 18 years.

"This could have been a disaster," Trempealeau County Sheriff Richard Anderson said. "We’re glad everyone’s going to be OK.”

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reported that the propane tank at the farmhouse was empty and the family had apparently used a charcoal grill as a heat source.

“I can’t hardly believe something like that would happen,” said Willis Breska, who owns the house. “They are my tenants in there, and I talked to them about the heat when we went over the contract."

The La Crosse Tribune reported that Breska said the home had two carbon monoxide detectors and two smoke alarms, but none of them went off.

“I was so surprised to hear about it because the place had just been remodeled with a new furnace and lines last fall,” Breska said.

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