Aspen home where family died required CO detector
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” A building plan approved by Pitkin County about five years ago called for a Popcorn Lane home ” where four people were found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning Friday ” to be fitted with a safety detection device to try to prevent such tragedies.
The plan was part of regulations put into place by the county to promote efficient building in 2003, which included the installation of carbon monoxide monitors in new construction projects. The city of Aspen also subscribes to the same requirements.
That means the home, located about four miles east of Aspen in an unincorporated area of the county, presumably had the device installed at the time a certificate of occupancy was approved by local officials in June 2006.
The Aspen Times reviewed those documents Tuesday. County building officials were in meetings on Tuesday and could not be reached.
The status of the device has been called into question through the course of a sheriff’s investigation into the deaths of Parker Lofgren, 39; his wife, Caroline, 42; and their children, Owen 10, and Sophie, 8, of Denver.
They were found dead Friday in a bedroom of the 10 Popcorn Lane residence by family friends, who had driven from Denver to share the house with them for the Thanksgiving holiday, the sheriff’s department said.
The bedroom sits two floors above a crawl space that houses mechanical equipment for the home.
Sheriff’s investigators, as of Tuesday, had not determined whether the residence had a carbon monoxide monitor. The monitor, according to county code, could be located in most any part of the home.
Investigators were expected to walk through the home Tuesday, but that was called off, said deputy Marie Munday, public information officer for the department. She said that the department was working on obtaining a search warrant.
She declined to be more specific.
“I’m not trying to be vague. It is under investigation,” Munday said.
The cause of deaths seems to have been tied to the snowmelt and heating vents, which apparently leaked carbon monoxide into the home.
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that is created when fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas and propane, burn incompletely. It is poisonous and can kill cells of the body. It also replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, which leads to suffocation.
When the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the residence Friday, it reported high and unsafe carbon monoxide levels at the site.
The home is located in the exclusive Morningstar subdivision.
The deaths have prompted both Pitkin County and the city of Aspen to revisit the building codes.
The county building code requires homes to have one carbon monoxide detector, but the code is not specific as to the detector’s location in the residence, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
Both the city of Aspen and the county require carbon monoxide monitors in new construction projects, the city noted in a separate press release, also issued late Tuesday afternoon. However, said the city, “the regulation is fairly nonspecific in terms of placement in a home or building. For example, the monitor could simply be placed in the garage.”
New regulations in the 2009 International Building Code will likely be more specific and comprehensive, said the city. Both the city and county will look to include a more specific policy in their codes, the city press release said.