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St. Raphael's Evacuated Due to Suspicious Odor

It turns out a Scissor Lift was left plugged in to charge for two weeks straight.

was evacuated on Tuesday afternoon when a suspicious smell was detected inside of the church.

"It smelled like gas, so we called the fire department just to be safe," Diane Lawlor, the parish's business manager, said.

There were a number of parishioners in the church praying, and they were asked to leave by church staff.

The North Bellmore Fire Department responded to the call at 2:16 p.m., and Haz-Mat was there as well. It turns out the odor was coming from the church's basement.

"The odor in the basement was strong, so we were thinking it’s something serious," North Bellmore Fire Chief Eddie Kraus said. "It was more like a sewage smell. That’s methane and hydrogen sulfide. That will kill you if you breathe it in long enough."

It turns out that there was a scissor lift that had been charging in the basement, and it malfunctioned, which caused the odor to be released into the air. Although it had been left plugged in charging for two weeks, the charger is supposed to stop charging when it reaches 100 percent capacity.

"The battery overcharges, and then the Sulfuric Acid boils," Kraus said. "If someone’s exposed from that long enough, they can get sick from it."

After unplugging the battery, all of the readings taken by fire officials were reported at zero, although the stench will likely remain until the church is ventilated.

Patricia January 25, 2011 at 09:18 PM
What's a scissors lift?
Michael Ganci January 25, 2011 at 09:57 PM
A scissor lift is something that they use to change the bulbs and such in the church.
Daniel G Kaufmann January 26, 2011 at 08:36 PM
The drains lost the water seal. Pour a few gallons of water down all the drains; floor, sinks, wastes and toilets/urinals. This fills the void left by the evaporation of of the liquid in the "p" traps. The evaporation of liquid allows the sewer gases to be released to the atmosphere. So, a little maintenance weekly solves the problem.

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