York County, PA — Forty-nine female prison inmates were hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning on Wednesday by a leak that is believed to be from a malfunctioning heating and ventilation system in York County Prison.
The illnesses were first reported around 11 pm on Wednesday in a female dormitory on the prison grounds, which houses about 90 women, reports NBC News.
All of the inmates who were hospitalized have since returned to the prison. The heating system in the dorm area was shut down after the poisoning s were reported and a statement by the county relayed that carbon monoxide levels have returned to normal.
Prisoners in the affected unit have been transferred elsewhere in the facility while the prison works to repair the malfunctioning heater. Mary Sabol, the prison’s warden, stated that she will meet with McClure Co., who works on heating at the facility, to see what happened.
Sabol added that they will consider installing carbon monoxide detectors in each area, to prevent the problem from happening again. The York Daily Record notes that the county’s Commissioner Doug Hoke stated of the incident:
“I’m certainly concerned about the inmates … and their families, and hopefully, we’ll get answers for them … It could have been a disaster.”
More than a dozen ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars converged on the prison Wednesday night, after dispatchers received reports of a gas leak at the facility. Sabol, who was out of town when the incident occurred, stated that the situation was handled smoothly, adding, “I certainly commend the staff that was there.”
The prison inmates’ carbon monoxide poisoning did not disrupt visiting hours at York County Prison for Thanksgiving on Thursday.