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Dec 20, 2015 11:52 AM

Keene returns to normal, day after carbon monoxide issue caused widespread alert

KEENE - The downtown returned to normal on Sunday, a day after a natural gas problem led to widespread concerns about carbon monoxide exposure.

Firefighters spent much of Saturday evening going door-to-door to make sure the 1,250 Liberty Utilities customers affected were safe.

Fire Captain Arthur Johnson said the department received one call Sunday morning about a gas odor, but that the natural gas system had been restored to normal. The door-to-door visits were completed late Saturday night and everyone was OK, he said.

A problem at a Liberty Utilities production facility had led to "high BTU gas" being released through the city's natural gas lines on Saturday morning. It was not a leak, but the quality of the gas meant it posed a much higher risk of creating carbon monoxide, a potential health hazard.

More than 100 residents called firefighters to report they smelled gas. A command center was set up for the day and the hospital and other first responders were alerted to be prepared for a possible mass casualty incident.

In the end, only four people were transported to the hospital with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas was shut off at some locations and residents were warned to open windows and to leave their homes if they felt dizzy, weak or developed a headache.

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