The carbon-monoxide poisoning that sent 14 people from a Lynnwood family gathering to hospitals Thursday points out the dangers of using briquettes indoors, said Lynnwood Fire Marshal Leroy McNulty.

The carbon-monoxide poisoning that sent 14 people from a Lynnwood family gathering to hospitals Thursday points out the dangers of using briquettes indoors, said Lynnwood Fire Marshal LeRoy McNulty.

Residents of the unit at the Augusta Glen Apartments in the 4800 block of 168th Street Southwest may have been cooking over the briquettes about 9 p.m. when they noticed a 3-year-old boy had passed out, McNulty said. Only then did occupants realize the fireplace flue was closed.

Cold weather heightens the danger of potentially fatal carbon-monoxide poisoning if charcoal grills, gas grills or gasoline-powered generators are used indoors.

A danger of using charcoal briquettes indoors, McNulty said, is that unless food grease is dripped onto them, briquettes give off very little smoke, making it difficult to detect that carbon monoxide, which is odorless and colorless, is being given off.

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By comparison, a wood fire in a fireplace with the flue closed would rapidly spread smoke into the room, making the danger obvious more quickly.

Four members of the family were taken to Swedish Edmonds Medical Center in Edmonds, including the 3-year-old, who was the most severely affected and was treated with oxygen therapy.

The others were seen for observation only.

Ten other people from the gathering, ranging in age from 8 to 34, were taken for observation to Providence Medical Center in Everett. None was severely affected.

Food and food-preparation items found in the apartment made it appear that the charcoal fire was to be used for cooking, McNulty said.

He said the apartment had electric heat, which was functioning, and the apartment was warm when he arrived.

Other units in the complex were briefly evacuated as firefighters checked for carbon monoxide, but McNulty said carbon monoxide was detected only in the affected apartment, and in an attic area above it.

In the aftermath of a December 2006 windstorm that caused widespread power outages around the Northwest, more than 300 residents were sickened, and eight died, as families without electricity turned to alternate sources of heat and power.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com