On Monday morning, four minors in Amarillo, Texas, were pronounced dead from an “accidental poisoning” when a pesticide under the house was exposed to water, producing lethal phosphine gas.
After one child was pronounced dead at the scene, nine other victims were taken to Baptist St. Anthony’s hospital, where five are currently in “stable” condition. One patient was taken to Lubbock to be treated, according to the Amarillo Globe-News. Of the nine originally taken to the hospital, three were later pronounced dead.
Fire officials were called to the residence for a carbon monoxide poisoning at 5 a.m. on Monday. Upon reaching the residence, emergency responders found no trace of carbon monoxide, but soon realized that the poisoning came from phosphine gas, the lethal result of exposing a pesticide to water. Officials received a call after a friend or family member came to check on the house and found everyone inside to be sick.
It was later found out that a member of the family attempted to fumigate the house using a pesticide that contained aluminum phosphide. When exposed to water, the chemical releases phosphine gas which causes respiratory failure. Amarillo fire officials explained how the chemical works.
“It’s a very lethal chemical. It causes pulmonary edema, and basically the lungs fill up with fluid. We don’t know that that’s the cause of death so far, but that’s one of the more severe symptoms. It took us a long time to identify the chemicals.”
First responders were taken to the hospital to be checked for poisoning, but none showed any symptoms.
AFD’s HazMat team is currently investigating the incident.