1 dead, 4 others injured by apparent carbon monoxide

Sheriff's officials say a woman has died and four other people have been taken to hospitals after they were overcome by apparent carbon monoxide poisoning while ice fishing in southern Minnesota.

Authorities say the group was in an ice shanty on Lake Wilmert in rural Martin County Sunday afternoon. A 21-year-old woman died at the scene about 2 p.m. A 20-year-old man was taken to St. Marys in Rochester, about two hours to the east. Three other adults were treated at local hospitals.

This is at least the third consecutive January where someone has died from carbon monoxide poisoning while ice fishing in Minnesota. In 2015 a man died on Waseca's Clear Lake. Last year an angler died on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota.

"It's unfortunate but every year we get a case or two where someone is sick enough that needs to be transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment," said Christopher Logue, medical director of the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at HCMC, "because they were in an ice house where they were using a heat source and it wasn't ventilated properly."

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends installing carbon monoxide alarms in ice houses, and cracking a window for ventilation. Heating equipment should also be regularly inspected and in good condition.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common kind of poisoning worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 500 people die from unintentional exposure in the U.S. every year. Another 8,000-15,000 people are examined or treated in hospitals.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas found in the exhaust of generators, stoves or anything that burns fuel.

"The problem with CO is that, people can't see it, and people can't smell it," said Assistant Duluth Fire Chief Chris Martinson. "That's the danger, and that's the killer with carbon monoxide."

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