Four children are dead and six people have been hospitalized in North Texas in what is believed to be tragic a case of accidental pesticide poisoning.
Amarillo fire officials said Monday that a pest control chemical sprayed under a home likely formed deadly phosphine gas when someone attempted to wash it away with water.
A visitor to the home called 911 after arriving early Monday and discovering everyone was ill. First responders initially believed it to be a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.
However, officials now suspect that phosphine gas was released after the chemical aluminum phosphide was mixed with water under the home.
Aluminum phosphide, because of the extreme danger it poses when exposed even to just moisture, is a restricted use pesticide that may only be dispensed with a license.
Once inhaled or ingested, the respiratory system is attacked and it only takes a few parts per million to cause death.
All told, 10 people were inside the home. Nine of them were taken to the hospital after one died at the scene.
"Our guys arrived on scene, they found a lot of sick people, they found one child who was unconscious and unresponsive, they pulled the child out of the house, started CPR, rescue efforts were unsuccessful, unfortunately that child was pronounced dead later at the scene," Amarillo fire Captain Larry Davis told KFDA. "They also evacuated all the other people and they were taken to local Amarillo hospitals."
Three more victims later died at a hospital. The oldest of those was 17 and all of them were siblings.
One of the victims taken to the hospital is in critical condition.
Names of the victims were not yet released as of Tuesday morning.
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