Wantagh stores evacuated over CO levels

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All of the stores in the Cherrywood Shopping Plaza in Wantagh were evacuated Thursday evening, after elevated levels of carbon monoxide were detected from generators being used in several businesses, fire officials said.

Wantagh Fire Department responded around 4:30 p.m., after a report from the CVS store there of a strong gas smell. Harry Loud, the department's public information officer, said the smell wasn't gas, but exhaust fumes from generators.

Loud said generators were found in several of the businesses and that 38 people were evaluated by medical staff. He said two people had high levels of carbon monoxide, but they refused medical treatment. All of the buildings, about a dozen, were evacuated and ventilated, he said.

Loud said fire officials are finding people using generators in enclosed spaces. "It is a very bad thing." He said, when people use generators, the machines should be away from their homes, at least 10 feet away and not in their residences. An Oceanside woman died Monday of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator being used in her home, police said.

Loud said CVS hadn't let people back in as of 9 p.m., but other businesses had let people return.

Nassau County Police, Nassau County Fire Marshal, and the fire marshal's Hazardous Materials Unit were on the scene and the building department was notified.

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