Bell ringers overcome by carbon monoxide fumes

Six bell ringers were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes as they called villagers to the Remembrance Sunday service from the bell tower.

Bell ringers overcome by carbon monoxide fumes

St Botolph’s Church in Northfleet, Kent Photo: ALAMY

10:42AM GMT 14 Nov 2011

The campanologists were rushed to hospital after a faulty heating boiler belched out the toxic cloud, filling the tower.

Church wardens dialled 999 after a 62-year-old woman suddenly collapsed and others began to feeling unwell after breathing in the toxic cloud.

Paramedics, police and firefighters raced to the picturesque St Botolph’s Church in Northfleet, Kent, where the colourless, odourless and highly toxic gas was pouring out of the boiler.

“We sent three ambulances who arrived at the scene at 9.32am,” said a spokeman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service.

“The inital caller reported that a 62-year-old woman had collapsed and this was confirmed as resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Two of the bell ringers had taken themselves off home and they were later contacted by police and taken to hospital for a precautionary check over.

The Remembrance Service went ahead but was delayed until firefighters deemed it safe to do so.

A spokesman for the Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We led six people to safety and first aid was administered by an ambulance crew on site.

“Because the boiler was in the bell tower we were able to allow the service to go ahead.”

A spokesman for the church said that all the bell ringers had been released from hospital and were now recovering at home.

St Botolph’s Church has a peal of eight bells dating back to 1757.

One parishioner wrote online: “My husband was one of the bellringers. The paramedics were amazing and I can’t thank them enough for the service they provided, I feel that this needs investigating as could have turned out a lot worse.”

Another wrote: “Thanks to the quick response of the church wardens the emergency services were alerted promptly and the situation was dealt with without disruption to anyone other than the bell ringers!”

In October this year a report revealed that Kent was one of Britain’s hot spots for deaths and incidents from carbon monoxide poisoning.