4 children die in Texas gas poisoning

Willard RiveraJan 04, 2017

Officials said when the fumigant is mixed with water it creates a gas called phosphine gas which is highly poisonous.

Phosphine gas was likely released when someone tried to wash away the pesticide Weevil-Cide that had been sprayed under the home in Amarillo, Texas.

Captain Larry Davis of Amarillo Fire Department confirmed the chemical, used in the house to get rid of pests, was the source of the poisoning. A family friend, Terry Rodriguez, identified the children, one of whom was a high school senior, 17-year-old Yasmeen Balderas while the others were her three little brothers, Johnny, Josue and Felipe Balderas.

Davis tells us the rest of the household was sent to the hospital where three more children were pronounced dead.

Amarillo Fire Department officials say other people who were in the home are "not out of the woods" yet.

First responders initially believed it to be a case of carbon monoxide poisoning. They confirmed there was no Carbon Monoxide poisoning in the home.

The six surviving victims remain hospitalized Monday afternoon. Fire officials say they are Balderas' husband and four of their children.

As phosphine gas can cause respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, when the lungs fill with fluid, aluminum phosphide pesticide is "only sold to people that have a license to apply it", another official tells KFDA.

Orton says the gas typically casts off in about eight to 12 hours after it's been in contact with water, but personnel close to the home are wearing protective breathing equipment and hazmat suits as a precaution.

The AP reports about 10 first responders, including police officers and firefighters, were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but none showed symptoms of illness. All were reportedly cleared by medical personnel and not expected to have suffered any adverse effects from their exposure to the deadly pesticide. A specific cause of death had not been released for the four children Monday afternoon.

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