CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The death of one man and grave condition of another has South Charleston City Council members thinking of requiring hotels to install carbon monoxide detectors.
Mayor Frank Mullens was still gathering information Tuesday evening from city fire and police officers at the Holiday Inn Express along Corridor G.
A construction worker was found dead in his hotel room Tuesday morning when other members of his crew went to wake him. The man's roommate was unresponsive and was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital, where he was in critical condition Tuesday evening.
Two others were taken from the hotel to St. Francis Hospital.
Firefighters reported high levels of carbon monoxide in the building, and the remaining guests and employees were evacuated. The gas filtered up to the fifth floor from a pool heater on the ground floor.
Mullens said he never had heard of anything like it.
"From what I gather right now, we're looking at a tragic accident," the mayor said. "I'm just speechless. I've never heard of anything like this happening before in my life."
The hotel, which opened in July 1999, had no carbon monoxide detectors, according to South Charleston Fire Chief Greg Petry.
State law requires all homes with gas appliances built after 1998 to have carbon monoxide detectors, but there is no such requirement for hotels. Petry said he didn't know of a single hotel in the area with such detectors.
Mullens said the city follows state building code but the one regarding carbon monoxide detectors only in homes didn't make any sense.
"They all should be mandated to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors," Mullens said. "I hope this opens some eyes at the state level and that some new legislation is created on this.
"It's a shame that you have to wait until something like this happens to get something done."
Mullens said he would speak with legal counsel about drafting an ordinance requiring all hotels within South Charleston city limits to have detectors.
Such devices can be purchased for prices starting as low as $25.
County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman, a longtime public safety official, said smoke detectors weren't required anywhere early in his career. Nowadays, hotels have not only smoke detectors, but also sprinkler systems installed in each room and at the ends of hallways.
"All of our laws are developed in reaction to something else," Sigman said. "We can't just make up a rule and say this is how it's going to be; it has to go through the Legislature and that takes time.