AMARILLO, TX – Four children died after someone at their home sprayed water on a previously applied pesticide, causing a reaction that produced toxic phosphine gas, officials in Amarillo, Texas, said.
It happened around 5:00 AM on January 2nd, 2017, when the Amarillo Fire Department responded to a medical call.
According to our sister station KAMR, crews arrived at the scene and found one person unconscious and unresponsive, and several others sick.
After carbon monoxide poisoning was ruled out, Captain Davis says after interviewing other family members, the cause of death was discovered.
“We finally believe that we can confirm that there was a fumigant that they were using to get rid of pests here. This fumigant contained a chemical called aluminum phosphide. And when mixed with water it creates a gas called phosphine gas which is highly poisonous,” said Captain Davis.
Captain Davis tells KAMR the pesticide has been identified as Weevil-cide.
“When we use it we cannot be within 100 feet of a structure…. we have to notify neighboring people when we are using it…. we don’t really use the product in a residential setting. We use it out in the country where you are acres and acres away from everybody,” said Bruce Burnie, Owner of “Bugs” Burney Pest Control.
Six out of ten family members remain, no word yet on their condition.
According to KAMR, it is unknown at this time how long the family had been exposed to this gas.
Several dozens of people came out for a candlelight vigil for the family, just across from the home, and many others went to mass after the vigil at St. Laurence Catholic Church. It was all to show support and solidarity for the family.
Phosphine gas that was created during the incident is very poisonous, and it can cause pulmonary edema and respiratory failure.