Chief: Furnace likely source of CO that killed dad, son

ACUSHNET, Mass. (WPRI) — Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. That is the message Acushnet fire officials are hoping people will take away from a tragic incident that left a father and his 9-year-old son dead.

During a Thursday morning news conference, Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher said investigators said the home’s furnace is the preliminary source of the CO that killed Joseph Lopes, 41, and his son, Collin.

The two were found inside Lopes’ Buttonwood Lane home Wednesday morning after police were called to the residence for a well-being check. Collin Lopes’ mother called police after trying to contact the two victims and being unsuccessful.acushnet-father-son-co-death

Gallagher said there were mounts for smoke detectors in the house, but no detectors.

He said at the doorway of the residence, the air tested more than 400 parts of CO per million. When levels are over 300 ppm, CO can become fatal in about 15 minutes. Detectors are set to detect 30 parts per million.

Gallagher said levels were “over 3,000 ppm in the basement where the furnace was located. That is 100 times more than what is necessary to trigger the alarm.”

Even though the home did not have smoke or CO detectors, Gallagher said it most likely did in the last five years. He said the home has changed hands in that time, and certification would not have been issued without them.

Gallagher wasn’t sure what happened since then but said detectors are often tampered with.

“When that chirp because of a low battery, or because of steam from a bathroom, or smoke from cooking, they are disabled,” the chief said. “Their batteries are taken out or they’re taken off the mounting plates.”

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During the news conference, Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey underscored the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. He said officials will be talking to students about the dangers of CO.

Carbon monoxide is called a silent killer because it’s colorless and odorless.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • High levels can cause loss of consciousness and death.

The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office and the Fire Marshal’s Office were taking the lead on the investigation, Alves said.