- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2002

LIBERTYTOWN, Md. (AP) Two men using a gasoline-powered generator inside a house that lost power in last week's ice storm died from poisonous fumes, according to the Frederick County sheriff's office.
Richard Helwig, 65, of Libertytown, and Elmer Wheeler, 35, of Savage died Saturday afternoon, apparently no more than 90 minutes before electricity was restored, Sgt. Ted Nee said.
The men had set up the generator in the basement to run a freezer. The generator filled the house with carbon monoxide a clear and odorless gas.
Mr. Helwig's sister, Olivia Devilbiss of Westminster, found the bodies Monday when she went to the house because relatives could not reach her brother by phone, Sgt. Nee said.
She last talked to her brother by phone about 3:30 p.m.Saturday. Phen power was restored to the home about 5 p.m.
The bodies were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore for autopsies, officials said.
Mr. Helwig apparently knew gasoline-powered generators emit carbon monoxide fumes because a side door was propped open, but not wide enough to disperse the fumes, Sgt. Nee said.
Gasoline-powered engines and tools should not be used inside buildings or even partially enclosed areas, safety experts say.
The symptoms for carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, visual disturbances, unconsciousness and changes in personality.
Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kenneth Poole said many Frederick County residents used gasoline-powered generators while power was out following the Dec. 11 ice storm.
It only takes minutes for carbon monoxide to kill someone, he said.
Chief Poole suggested that everyone buy a carbon monoxide detector, which can also be used when chimneys draft improperly or when a car is left running in a driveway and the gas penetrates the home.

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