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Four Dead, One Person Critical, From Deadly Fumes In Chicago House

February 11, 1989

CHICAGO (AP) _ A blocked heater pipe spread deadly fumes through a house, killing four young men and leaving a woman in critical condition, authorities said Friday.

The deadly fumes ″might be either gas or carbon monoxide, but we’re leaning toward carbon monoxide,″ Fire Department spokesman Scott La Greca said.

″It appears that they have been dead for some time, in terms of hours or days, I don’t know,″ La Greca said. ″Somehow, the woman was able to survive.″

A flue pipe inside the living room heater and a separate pipe connecting the heater to an outside wall were blocked, causing the fumes to seep into the room, said Peoples Gas Co. spokesman Ed Joyce.

The four men were pronounced dead on arrival at Holy Cross Hospital, said supervisor Joyce Kopecky. She identified two of the victims as brothers Joel Blazek, 17, and Kenneth Blazek, 21.

Another victim, Larry Price, 27, and Carol Prykop, 18, who was in critical condition at University of Chicago Hospital, did not live at the house but were neighbors. The fourth victim, a 36-year-old man, was not immediately identified.

Four people were found in the living room and one person in a bedroom, authorities said.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, extremely poisonous gas. Because it has no odor or color, persons breathing it usually fall asleep without realizing they are being poisoned. It results when fuels containing carbon like coal or oil burn in stoves or furnaces that contain insufficient oxygen.

La Greca said authorities determined there was no need to evacuate nearby buildings after gas company workers shut off the supply of gas to the building.

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