LOWELL (CBS) – They call carbon monoxide the silent killer. This weekend, ten residents of a Lowell triple-decker learned first hand just how important it is to take that label seriously.

They were sound asleep in the middle of the night Saturday as the deadly gas filled their homes. Lowell firefighters say a carbon monoxide detector inside the home likely saved lives.

“I am just thankful we are alive basically,” said resident Frances Williams.

She collected a few items from her home on Tuesday. For now, she and all of her neighbors who live at 105 Avon Street in Lowell have to stay out after high levels carbon monoxide were detected in the multi-family home.

“Firefighters had to don their breathing tanks because of the high levels. They went through the building and found a problem with the boiler,” explained Lowell Fire Chief Jeff Winward.

The 911 call came in late Saturday night while many residents were fast asleep. Williams is glad to know the carbon monoxide detectors were working and firefighters responded quickly.

“I just heard the loud knock on the door and it was the fire department and I am so thankful,” Williams said.

The consequences of carbon monoxide inhalation can be fatal.

Carbon monoxide filled this Lowell triple-decker (WBZ-TV)

“Short term, 10 minutes would make you sick and over long term it would’ve been deadly,” said Chief Winward.

Ita Tah lives on the top floor of the building with her two children.

“Oh my God, makes me cry,” said Tah. “I see in the news how people die in their sleep and nobody wakes up and I am grateful that did not happen.”

A total of ten people had to evacuate and no one was hurt. National Grid had to open all the windows to ventilate the deadly gas out of the building.

The gas is still turned off, so there is no heat or hot water. It’s an inconvenience, but one these residents are not complaining about.

“It’s inconvenient, but I am grateful that there is family around helping out as well and friends,” said Tah.

Chief Winward knows just how important a carbon monoxide detector can be.

“We call carbon monoxide the silent killer. It’s odorless and colorless. It shows how important working smoke alarms are on each level of your house,” said Winward.

And residents were glad the detector was there.

“I am thankful it did work,” said Williams.

There is no word yet when folks will be able to return to their homes.

Paul Burton

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