CO Leak Forces Evacuations in Darby Borough

Officials believe overheated underground electrical lines are the source of a dangerous carbon monoxide leak in Delaware County.

A carbon monoxide leak forced officials to shutdown the 800 block of Main Street in Darby Borough on Wednesday afternoon.

Ed Truit with Delaware County Emergency Management told NBC10 firefighters were called to Darby Court Apartments just after 1:30 p.m. to investigate reports of an odor. Firefighters detected high levels of carbon monoxide and began evacuating homes and businesses.

"The smoke was coming in and the odor was getting into the buildings," said Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe. "The odor was carrying carbon monoxide."

"It was just a real strong stench, like it was sewage or something," said an evacuee.

NBC10 contacted PECO and spokesperson Ben Armstrong said the CO condition was created by the overheating of some underground electrical cables.

The insulation that contains the cables created the gas as the lines overheated, according to Armstrong. The CO then traveled through duct work into buildings.

PECO has shut off power to its 110 customers on the 800 block of Main. PECO says this will allow the lines to cool and stop the CO leak. Workers will then enter manholes and access the damage.

Armstrong says there has been no underground fire or explosion.

Half of the people on the block have been allowed back into their homes and businesses. Between 40 and 50 people still remained evacuated however as of 6 p.m.

"We will be checking CO levels," said Chief Smythe. "We're doing our best to move the air flow so we can get the CO out of the buildings so we can return the people." 

Smythe told NBC10 nine people complained of respiratory issues. One person was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries.

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